The agrement was signed last week in Brasilia by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The so called "triangular co-operation" initiative, will bring the EU and Brazil to work together in Portuguese speaking parts of Africa, Haiti and East Timor. The development of renewable energy is likely to be a central theme, and a first step will see the EU and Brazil sign an agreement with Mozambique this week to develop bioelectricity and biofuels projects.

Brazilian companies are world leaders in the production of biofuels and are looking to expand their operations, while the EU is looking to increase its biofuel domestic consume, in order to meet its target of sourcing 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

But projects for expansion of fuel crops in Mozambique - already a leading African producer of biofuels - raised critics from environmental groups. The initiative, they say, will simply serve to displace people from their land, exacerbate food shortages and pose a threaten to the forests.

"The expansion of biofuels in our country is transforming natural forest and vegetation into fuel crops, is taking away fertile farmland from communities growing food, and creating poor working conditions and conflicts with local people over land ownership - says Anabela Lemos, from Friends of the Earth Mozambique - We want real investment in agriculture that allows us to produce food and not fuel for foreign cars."

A new Friends of the Earth International report, "The Jatropha trap", evaluates jatropha production in Mozambique and highlights the significant gap between the rhetoric and reality. The expansion of biofuel crops in Mozambique has already been widely criticised for taking away fertile farmland used by communities to grow food, poor working conditions for local workers and conflicts with local people over land ownership. Biofuel investors, mainly European and other foreign companies, have already applied for the rights to use around 4.8 million hectares of land in Mozambique - nearly one-seventh the country's available arable land.


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