New palm oil plantation destroys local livelihoods
Luxembourg-based company faces protests over land grab
Socfin, a Luxembourg-based company, has been accused of a land grabbing operation in the Cameroon which has left 6,000 small farmers and their families without a livelihood.
According to the campaign group Rainforest Rescue, Socfin, a member of the RSPO, is planting oil palms and rubber trees on 43,700 hectares of land that locals say belong to them.
Since April, smallholders have been taking matters in their own hands and blockading plantations run by Socfin, a subsidiary of the Bolloré investment group. With the support of international NGOs they also held protests at the company's AGM in France in June.
“Bolloré stole our land, and now our freedom.” Photo credit: Rainforest Rescue
“These lands were stolen from us. We come now to take them back and occupy them until an agreement with Bolloré and Socfin is reached,” farmer Michel Essonga told Rainforest Rescue.
The problem is not limited to Cameroon: thousands have taken to the streets in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Cambodia in recent weeks to protest Socfin’s practices.
Socfin rejects the protesters’ allegations and insists that its plantations are “vanguards of social progress”. The multibillion Bolloré Group, which holds a 39% stake in Socfin, claims it has no influence over the company’s actions.
The smallholders are calling on Socfin and the Bolloré Group to compensate them, respect their land rights and return the plots on which they depend.
Socfin is one of the world’s largest plantation owners with 150,000 hectares of rubber and oil palm in several African and Southeast Asian countries.
According to Rainforest Rescue, in 2014, Socfin planted oil palms on around 116,000 hectares in several African countries – an increase of eight percent within one year. The company also added 55,000 hectares of rubber plantations.
Rainforest Rescue have started a petition asking the company to stop its land grabs.
Sign the petition now
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