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Coffee giant in hot water over African grounds

A German coffee producer has come under attack for allegedly taking advantage of a brutal land-grab in Uganda that made way for a "sustainable" plantation.

Coffee giant in hot water over African grounds
Photo: DPA

Hamburg-based Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) has 10 percent of the global coffee market share, and supplies Dallmayr among other firms.

NKG head Michael Neumann personally laid the foundation stone for the Kaweri plantation alongside Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni back in 2001.

But it was reported on Monday that just a few days before the ceremony, government troops drove around 400 Ugandan farmers off the 2,500 hectare piece of land, beating workers and destroying their huts and crops.

The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper said the farmers and their families, around 2,000 people in all, have been fighting for compensation ever since, and have won the support of human rights organization Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN).

Together the organizations have brought several lawsuits against both the Ugandan government and NKG’s subsidiary company Kaweri, but it has been protracted process.

Judges have been changed several times, and NKG itself has missed several negotiation deadlines.

The farmers did not directly own the land, but Ugandan common law gives them legal rights to its use, because they had been working it for so long before they were evicted, the paper said.

But Neumann told the Frankfurter Rundschau that the land was “the legal property of the Ugandan Investment Authority (UAI), and has been leased to Kaweri for 99 years.”

The farmers also argue that the Kaweri plantation has annexed some 500 hectares of neighbouring land, owned by 80-year-old farmer Anna Nandyose Katende. The Frankfurter Rundschau said it had seen her title deeds for this land, which is to be re-measured this week to prove the land was illegally taken by the German-owned company.

Dallmayr has consistently claimed that it only buys coffee from sustainable sources, and NKG argues that the Kaweri plantation has brought new jobs, educational opportunities, electricity and fresh water to the area.

But FIAN spokeswoman Gertrud Falk says that while the new electricity and water supply had raised the standard of living for some of the local population, many farmers simply no longer have any income to afford the new facilities. As a consequence the number of children going to school has reportedly dropped.

“We won’t let go,” Falk told the paper. “The expulsion is unjustifiable and is a blatant violation of human rights and Ugandan law.”

The Local/bk

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FOOD & DRINK

Five of France’s new Michelin foodie hotspots

As Michelin publishes its 2022 guide, here are five of the most exciting new entries into the hallowed 'bible' of French gastronomy.

Five of France's new Michelin foodie hotspots

Here are five must-visit venues of gastronomic delight for food lovers.

READ ALSO New Michelin guide celebrates ‘resilient’ French cuisine

Plénitude – Paris

It’s only been open seven months, but the Paris restaurant – on the first floor of Cheval Blanc Paris – now has three stars, awarded to chef Arnaud Donckele in Cognac on Tuesday. Picking up three stars all at once is almost unheard of – only Yannick Alléno achieved the same feat in 2015 with the Pavillon Ledoyen in the 8th arrondissement.

Broths, vinaigrettes, creams, veloutés, juices are at the heart of the cuisine at Plénitude. A seasonal six-course Symphony Menu costs €395, while the Sail Away Together menu of three savoury dishes and one sweet is €320.

La Villa Madie – Cassis, Bouches-du-Rhône

Another new three-star venue listed in this year’s guide came as something of a surprise, by all accounts. Dimitri and Marielle Droisneau’s restaurant in the south of France overlooks the Mediterranean.

“We took this house nine years ago. We had a baby, we have a second one now. We live in the villa. We work in a paradise,” chef Dimitri said at the ceremony in Cognac.

The cuisine follows the seasons, and uses carefully selected local produce. As such, the menu changes daily according to what’s available. The Menu Anse de Corton – a starter, a fish course, a meat course, and a sweet treat – costs €130, while the six-course Menu Espasado “Cap Canaille” is €180.

Plaza Athénée – Paris

Top Chef series three winner Jean Imbert was one of a number of former contestants on the show to win a star for his restaurant in the palace le Plaza Athénée – with the jury praising his “impressive revival of the greatest classics of French gastronomy”.

Guillaume Pape – a finalist in series 10, also picked up his first star for  L’Ebrum, in Brest; as did series nine finalist Victor Mercier, for FIEF in the ninth arrondissement, honoured for producing “empowering cuisine, made exclusively using French produce”. Mercier was also named Young Chef of the Year.

The self-titled Menu de Jean at Plaza Athénée costs €296

Villa La Coste – Bouches-du-Rhône

Continuing the Top Chef theme, judge Hélène Darroze – who already runs the three-star Hélène Darroze at The Connaught in London – was awarded a star for her restaurant in the south of France, as was fellow-judge Philippe Etchebest for his latest venture in Bordeaux.

Local vegetables and fruit are the stars of the dining show at Villa La Coste, with meat and fish playing an accompanying role. A three-course lunch menu is €75, while a full dinner menu is €155.

Domaine Riberach: La Coopérative – Bélesta, Ariège 

One of six new restaurants to be awarded a Green Star for its seasonal food and it’s determined approach to ‘sustainable gastronomy’. This year’s six Green Star winners join 81 establishments which received the award last year in France.

“Slow food” is the order of the day, with menus created based – as is often the case – on the seasons, the market and chef Julien Montassié’s instinct. The chief rule is that food must be local – “0 km is our motto”, boasts the website.

The six-course Menu Latitude is €85 without wine. A three-course Menu Km0 is €49 – and a children’s two-course menu is €18.

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