Liberia: Golden Veroleum's palm oil expansion projects reportedly "bringing jobs but dividing communities"
Author: Clair MacDougall, The Guardian (UK), Published on: 20 October 2016
"Liberia: the growth of a new palm oil frontier: Golden Veroleum Liberia is building one of the largest palm oil plantations in the civil-war scarred country, bringing jobs but dividing communities", 20 Oct 2016
...Palm oil was a key part of the country’s poverty reduction strategy. Done well...the sector could create jobs for up to 100,000 people in Liberia. However, there was little consideration in this process of who lived on the land or had the right to it, despite the land conflicts and battles over economic resources that defined the nation’s difficult history...GVL, a beneficiary of this push for investment, has faced community opposition... “There was a rude awakening when [GVL] got out there and these communities were fighting back,” says Othello Brandy, head of the Interim Land Taskforce, a government body focused on land rights and administration...After initial disputes, GVL began negotiating more actively with communities, in part to meet international obligations to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil...[GVL’s CEO] David Rothschild says GVL...has acknowledged community rights through negotiating directly with the community rather than government.
A new report, commissioned by Global Witness, claims communities benefited more economically before GVL came, from subsistence farming, hunting and selling charcoal...GVL says the report is “factually deeply flawed”, that it overstates both incomes from subsistence farming and the percentage of community land under development, and underestimates the benefit palm oil development has brought in terms of local infrastructure...