The issue

The Herakles Farms plantation in the South West Region of Cameroon is one of the best-documented examples of a wrong project, in the wrong place. The project never was a good one, right from the start. The Establishment Convention contains abhorrent labour law clauses and unjustifiable tax exemptions. It has been the object of a local and international controversy since 2013.

And it has been since plagued by land grabbing, corruption, labour law and human rights violations and a complete lack of respect for the neighbouring communities and the environment. Their current lease is expected to end this November and it should be the end of it. But they will ask an extension or a new one via a Presidential Decree, that could go up to 99 years! It’s high time we act together to stop this toxic project.

“We tried to meet with the SGSOC people, and they said that our neighbouring village gave them this land. Are they not supposed to try to find out whose this land belongs to?” – Adolf Ebong Ngbe

Local communities and civil society

SGSOC has denied communities’ rights to Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) by engaging in corrupt land negotiation processes and demarcating its plantation boundaries without consent from locals.
In Nguti, John Nya Eyabi, “We told them they could take all the forest they wanted, but respecting a 5 km buffer zone beyond our farms. […] One day we saw red marks on trees with the name SGSOC, very close to the village. My farm and many others are included within this SGSOC area […]If they take this forest, where will I stay with my children, with my family?”
Adolf Ngbe Ebong, a 62 years old retired policeman, “One day, I came in my farm and I found out that everything has been felled down, they bulldozed everything, and my four hectares were gone. It was my forest that was supposed to help me on my retirement to take care of my family but today, I have no place. […] I feel like dying, I have nothing else than this land.”

A coalition of over twenty Cameroonian and international NGOs has stood up to SGSOC’s unethical and illegal behavior since 2012. Two Cameroonian NGOs—SEFE and Nature Cameroon—based in the plantation area have been subjected to administrative and judicial harassment by SGSOC and the Cameroonian Government for over five years, as shown by the example of Nasako Besingi, director of SEFE, who was sued by Herakles for defamation and inexplicably convicted by a Cameroonian court. Besingi is appealing the conviction.

SGSOC’s concession is surrounded by areas rich in biodiversity, counting numerous endemic and endangered species.

Environmental impact

SGSOC has a dismal environmental sustainability record. The company’s land concession is located in a bio-diversity hotspot, surrounded by four protected areas. Scientists found numerous endemic and endangered species within SGSOC’s concession area including Chimpanzees and new species of fish.

To date, SGSOC has cleared 882 hectares of forest at its main site. If the entire concession is converted from forest into oil palm, it would result in net carbon emissions of 20.9 GtCO2e. Furthermore, the company was accused of manipulating the content of its environmental impact assessment to hide the plantation’s true impacts and the company’s high conservation value assessment was panned by a panel of experts.

Africa is the new frontier for palm oil. Companies worldwide are attracted by its rich, vast, unexploited lands.

Palm oil in Africa

Palm oil is among the world’s cheapest edible oils and one of the most popular. Palm oil expansion is linked with environmental damage and deforestation worldwide. Africa as a whole is still a relatively minor player but the promise of profits and the large availability of land means the continent is an attractive target as companies seek to satisfy global demand. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land in sub-Saharan Africa have been leased or sold to foreign corporations, governments or individuals.

Many of these deals are opaque in nature and can be seen as part of a wider land grab. African countries face a decision between allowing corporations to encroach upon their lands and expand into their natural rainforests in pursuit of the illusion of short-term economic benefits or choosing a path of sustainable development that puts the protection of their natural resources and their livelihoods first.

We can stop this toxic project and we need to act now, before the lease is extended or renewed.

Get Involved

It’s time for us to act! We have to ensure that SGSOC’s license is not renewed. Sign the petition NOW to ask the Cameroonian government to stop this project and protect his communities and forest!

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