U.S. Herakles Farms Halts Cameroon Palm Oil Development

24 May

Oil palm nursery in a Herakles Farm’s concession area. Last year Herakles Farms said it had permission to set up three nurseries covering 100 hectares even before producing a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA). Photo: © Greenpeace/Alex Yallop.

Cross Posted from Reuters

May 22 – A company owned by New York venture capital firm Herakles Capital has suspended work on a giant palm oil plantation in Cameroon after protests by environmental groups and villagers, highlighting opposition to land acquisitions in Africa.

Herakles Farms, which also has operations in Ghana, said it halted development of its proposed 60,000 hectare plantation – an area 10 times the size of Manhattan – and laid off 690 workers while the Cameroonian government reviews the 2009 deal.  The move came weeks after an order from the Forestry Ministry and a day after a joint report from Greenpeace and the Oakland Institute alleged that Herakles failed to obtain the proper permits prior to clearing rainforest for palm nurseries and was selling timber that was supposed to go the Cameroonian government.

The company said in a statement the government had ordered it to cease preparing land near its Talangaye palm oil nursery pending an assessment of the public usefulness of the project to the region.

Environmental groups including Greenpeace and WWF have said the project violates Cameroon’s laws, could endanger wildlife and deprive locals of their livelihoods.

Some villagers around Herakles’ Talangaye nursery, where it is growing saplings for the plantation, have warned it would leave them without land for hunting and growing their own crops.

Herakles has denied the allegations and has insisted it had received official permission to proceed. It said it was working with the Cameroonian government to resolve the issue quickly and it remained committed to the project.

Palm oil is the world’s most important vegetable oil used in everything from margarine and soap to biofuel, with annual production around the world worth about $20 billion.

Critics say the palm oil industry is taking part in a land grab in Africa that reduces local food output in favour of crops for export, often stirring local opposition.

In Liberia, an independent study into Golden Veroleum’s palm oil plantation recently demanded the company review its social and environmental policies. (Reporting by Tansa Musa; writing by Daniel Flynn; editing by James Jukwey)

3 Responses to “U.S. Herakles Farms Halts Cameroon Palm Oil Development”

  1. aboriginalpress June 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Reblogged this on .

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Underreported Struggles #74 May 2013 - June 3, 2013

    […] U.S. company Herakles Farms finally succumbed to local and international pressure, halting development of its 60,000 hectare palm oil plantation in the middle of the Cameroon rainforest. The move came […]

  2. Underreported Struggles #74 May 2013 | Earth First! Newswire - June 3, 2013

    […] U.S. company Herakles Farms finally succumbed to local and international pressure, halting development of its 60,000 hectare palm oil plantation in the middle of the Cameroon rainforest. The move came […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: