by Filip Verbelen
Palm oil is the world’s cheapest edible oil and a key ingredient in some biofuels. Global demand is booming and agri-corporations are grabbing large swathes of land to expand palm oil production in a new frontier: Africa.
One of these corporations is Herakles Farms, a New York-based agri-corporation with links to one of the world’s largest private equity firms, Blackstone. Herakles is steaming ahead with its palm oil plantation in Cameroon, which is set to affect tens of thousands of people in dozens of villages and, covering around 70,000 hectares, would flatten a forested area larger than Manhattan Island between four protected areas.
Portraying itself as a benign benefactor, Herakles Farms says it “aims to meet growing global demand for food by developing sustainable and environmentally benign projects with full support of the local people”.
But in Cameroon, this is hardly the case.
During a Greenpeace field trip to Cameroon this month, I witnessed widespread local opposition to Herakles Farms’ highly controversial yet potentially lucrative palm oil plantation. Continue reading