A new report from Friends of the Earth, Exploitation and empty promises: Wilmar's Nigerian land grab, examines a 30,000 hectare landgrab in southeastern Nigeria. Wilmar's one of the world's largest palm oil traders; the company is also a prominent member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and has signed up to policy meant to eliminate forest destruction and human rights abuses from its operations.
But Friends of the Earth find Wilmar's Nigeria acquisition failed to gain the free, prior and informed consent of affected communities, instead taking advantage of local power dynamics to bypass real community consultation. The report also finds Wilmar produced inadequate environmental and social impact assessments – and failed to make them available to affected communities – and the company has destroyed valuable forest on which locals rely for food and water.
"Wilmar’s new plantations in Nigeria follow the same business model that has caused vast forest destruction and human rights abuse in Southeast Asia," says the report. "For countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, the embrace of large scale palm plantations has actually contributed little to GDP; failed to provide stable and secure local employment; and subjected the economies to the whims of global commodity price volatilities. In Southeast Asia, aggressive government support for large scale plantations, similar to that planned for Nigeria, has extracted wealth from the country into the pockets of foreign business owners, leaving as little as possible in tax revenue; and has left communities landless, hungry, indebted, and in conflict."