In 1999 USAID contracted the US company Schaffer and Associates to undertake a feasibility study for a sugar refinery in Malis Office du Niger. Schaffer subsequently formed the Société Sucrière de Markala (Sosumar) with African sugar giant Illovo, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, as the majority owner. In 2007, Schaffer, Illovo and the Government of Mali signed a contract allocating Sosumar a 50-year lease (renewable) on 17,000 ha of land for sugar-cane plantations, but the Office du Niger map shows a total of 39,538 ha. Illovo said the projects implementation remains dependent upon the Government of Mali fulfilling certain undertakings while a US Embassy cable released by Wikileaks in 2009 indicated that the delay was due to competing claims to the land by another sugar refinery in the area, owned by China Light Industrial Corporation for Foreign Economic and Technical Cooperation (CLETC). On May 28th, 2012, lllovo discontinued their involvement with the project, publicly citing concerns of political instability and the 'deteriorating security situation' in Mali. Local people still cannot farm the lands because it remains fenced and continue to protest industrial farming in the region.