New oil palm land grabs exposed


Asian palm oil companies run into trouble in Africa.

Indonesia’s largest palm oil company, Sinar Mas, ran into trouble recently when communities in Liberia complained about a 33,000 hectare palm oil operation being developed on their lands by its indirectly-owned subsidiary, Golden Veroleum in Butaw District, Sinoe County.

Alfred Brownell, the lawyer from Green Advocates representing the Kru tribes impacted by the project explains that: “villagers are concerned that their lands are being taken without their fully informed or free consent.”

This is the second palm oil development involving a prominent RSPO member to run into controversy in Liberia. Last year, a subsidiary of Malaysia’s largest palm oil consortium, Sime Darby, was criticised for expanding its operations without respecting local peoples’ rights. The company was in the early stages of developing a 220,000 ha. operation but was halted in its tracks by complaints, which, to its credit, the company has responded to by entering into dialogue with the communities.

The spotlight is now on two large palm oil operations in Cameroon.

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