Uganda: Column on how Bidco's palm oil project has impoverished locals; includes company comments
"Uganda's farmers battle palm oil Goliaths for land"
...John Muyiisa...has almost nothing and is seeking compensation in Ugandan courts from the palm oil plantations he blames for seizing the land and destroying his livelihood. As land grabs by local firms linked to multinationals drive small-holder farmers out of business, a rights group behind a February bid for compensation by 100 farmers says rights violations and environmental degradation are also at stake.
Muylisa, a 53-year old father of nine, had leased a 17 hectare (40 acre) plot farming coffee, bananas, cassava and potatoes on Kalangala island. But in 2011 that land was taken and cleared for a palm oil estate...The palm oil project is being carried out by Oil Palm Uganda, a subsidiary of local food producer Bidco Uganda. Bidco in turn is a joint venture between global palm oil giant Wilmar International -- backed by several European banks and financiers -- and other international partners...
Kalangala island in the vast freshwater Lake Victoria appears idyllic, but Bidco -- which launched the ambitious Oil Palm Uganda Limited (OPUL) development... says it was once at the bottom of the pile for economic development. The food producer dismisses claims it has caused harm, saying the palm oil farm has instead boosted development on the island. Bidco boasts Kalangala now is among the top 10 developed districts in the east African country, after "working harmoniously and closely with the community" on the joint public-private partnership.