In forest communities across Cameroon and the Congo Basin people want development — quality roads, clean water, electricity, the ability to earn a decent living and access to education, among other things. Promoters of palm oil projects would like people to believe that ceding their lands to corporations for large-scale industrial plantations will put them on the road to development.
What communities don’t get are the facts. They hear little about the true costs and benefits of giving up their land for industrial plantations. Nor can communities easily get information about the alternatives to plantation agriculture. Although communities may get the impression that they must choose forests or development, industrial agriculture or poverty, this is not true. Nor is it clear that industrial palm oil development will lead people out of poverty or increase food security.
Greenpeace Africa and Cameroonian NGO ACDIC (Association Citoyenne pour la Defense des Interêts Collectifs) are working together “to assess how small-scale farming can offer a responsible development path” and on April 16th close to 100 community representatives attended a workshop “to share ideas on how to ensure food security and forest protection…and identified technical support for farmers, access to land, and producing food locally for local consumption as some of the key factors in achieving this.”