Original blogpost by Alexa Phillips, Greenpeace Africa
For many people thoughts are already turning to the festive period and a well-earned rest. All Nasako Besingi wants for Christmas is for Herakles Farms to say they are leaving him and his fellow villagers’ land alone.
2012 has been a tough year for the Cameroonian activist, the director of the NGO Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), which has been leading resistance to Herakles’ proposed palm oil plantation in the country. While preparing a peaceful demonstration last month, he was arrested with other SEFE activists and detained without charge. For months he’s been subjected to constant harassment culminating in a court appearance this week where he again left without any charge being laid. Continue reading
Originally posted to Greenpeace Africa.
A US-owned company is clearing natural forest in the southwest of Cameroon to establish a large-scale palm oil plantation, heightening social tension as serious questions about the legality of the project persist.
Aerial footage by Greenpeace taken earlier this month shows how trees in the largely forested concession area have been cleared by SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), a subsidiary of New York-based Herakles Farms.
The deforestation is taking place despite the fact SGSOC is operating via a 99-year land lease that has not yet been approved by Presidential Decree and is therefore questionable under Cameroonian Law.
If it is not stopped, the planned 730km2 concession will eventually be almost half the size of the greater Johannesburg metropolitan area, or 10 times the size of Manhattan. It would destroy a densely forested area in a biodiversity hotspot, resulting in severe consequences for the livelihoods of thousands of residents and for the global climate. Continue reading
Originally appeared at The Huffington Post.
These seeds are ready for the press. The fruit itself is turned into "Palm oil," while the nut is used for "Palmiste oil." This is the local variety grown by smallholders.
Ecological and economic welfare are two sides of the same coin and having to choose between developing economies and societies on one hand, and protecting the environment on the other, is a false dilemma. This false dilemma is often used by private companies to dismiss civil society and local communities, mislead policy makers, and then carry on with questionable practices.
Let me explain. Sub-Saharan Africa has been the scene of a huge land grab in recent years, with overseas governments and businesses buying up or securing long-term leases on large tracts of land. Some of the deals are straightforward acquisitions but many are contentious to say the least.
According to a number of the agribusiness corporations that are investing heavily in developing vast palm oil plantations throughout Central and Western Africa their primary aim is bringing much-needed revenue to local economies, providing jobs and improving the lives of the people living there. Don’t let yourselves be fooled by this seemingly altruistic discourse: we rarely hear any mention of the millions to be made in trying to satisfy the unquenchable global thirst for palm oil. Could this be the real motivation?
It is a 2 day drive from the capital Yaounde to the South West of Cameroon, to the area where the American company Herakles Farms is starting a huge new palm oil plantation. Going there we pass by several vast palm oil and banana plantations. Plantations seem to be big business already for years in Cameroon. But when we stop to visit the plantations, the only thing we see is poverty.Local people are driven away from their farms to make space for plantations, are forced to settle elsewhere, and plantation workers are imported from other areas in Cameroon. Plantation wages are low compared to a farmers income in this region. Also the occasional hospitals and schools supplied by the plantation companies don’t look very reliable.
Frédéric Amiel is head of the Forest Campaign for Greenpeace France
Bruce Wrobel is a man with his heart in the right place. You see, Bruce is in the agricultural business and he plans to solve the world’s complex food security issues by creating sustainable, community oriented projects. He is the CEO of Herakles Farms – a corporation with some very wealthy friends. Continue reading
by Irène Wabiwa
Within the past few weeks, rainforest destruction has begun once again in one of Africa’s most important biodiversity hotspots: the coastal rainforest of Cameroon, at the fringe of the Congo Basin region. Herakles Farms, the American company behind the operation, is now pressing ahead with the establishment of a palm oil plantation in this precious area despite major social, environmental and legal concerns.
A Buma tree (Cieba pentandra), standing in the middle of one of Herakles’ nurseries. These trees are considered to be sacred, and are a symbol of power in many African regions. The bulldozer that tried to fell it crumpled under the impact. Despite having fixed the bulldozer, the company decided to leave the tree so that it now stands alone in the middle of a devastated landscape. © Jan-Joseph Stok / Greenpeace