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'Conflict or Consent?' Chapter 14: The BioPalm oil palm project: a case study in the Département of Océan, Cameroon

This is the fourteenth chapter of 'Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads'.

Introduction

An increasing trend in large-scale land acquisitions has been observed globally since about 2007 driven by rising food commodity prices, amongst other factors. This phenomenon has attracted the label of ‘land-grab’ due to widespread concern over the threats it presents to the human rights of communities living from the land being acquired. Africa has arguably been the region most affected by such land deals and the authors of this study have recently witnessed this trend in Cameroon. Coinciding with the moratorium on palm oil in Indonesia in 2011, at least four new large-scale oil palm plantation projects have been announced in Cameroon and several existing oil palm and rubber plantations are seeking to expand their current land allocations. This paper examines an oil palm plantation project planned by BioPalm/SIVA in the Océan department of Cameroon. It assesses the plans and processes undertaken by the project proponents, reports on the views of local communities and analyses the project’s compliance with national and international laws, with particular emphasis on the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

'Conflict or Consent?' Chapter 15: SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC (SGSOC) in South West Cameroon

This is the fifthteenth chapter of 'Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads'.

On 17th September 2009, SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC (SGSOC) signed a contract with the Cameroonian government to develop a large industrial oil palm plantation and refinery. SGSOC is 100% owned by the American company Herakles Farms, an affiliate of Herakles Capital, an Africa-focused private investment firm involved in the telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, mining and agroindustrial sectors.

SGSOC's project has been the subject of great controversy over the last two years. Local communities, conservation groups, and NGOs have expressed opposition to the project due to its numerous negative social and environmental impacts. However, Herakles claims the project will contribute to socio-economic development and environmental protection. Yet in September 2012, the firm withdrew their application for membership of the RSPO in reaction to a formal complaint lodged against them and widespread criticism of their project.

Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads

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Read this report in English or in Bahasa Indonesia

Growing global demand for palm oil is fuelling the large-scale expansion of oil palm plantations across Southeast Asia and Africa. Concerns about the environmental and social impacts of the conversion of vast tracts of land to monocrop plantations led in 2004 to the establishment of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which encourages oil palm expansion in ways that do not destroy high conservation values or cause social conflict. Numerous international agencies have also called for reforms of national frameworks to secure communities’ rights and to develop sound land governance.