Deforestation in Asia and Africa: Palm Oil Giant Wilmar Resorts to “Dirty Tricks”

World’s largest palm oil trading company, Wilmar International Ltd., under scrutiny as communities accuse its suppliers of harassment, deception and rights abuses.

Oil palm giant Wilmar International Ltd. (F34.SI / WLIL.SI) stands accused of resorting to ‘dirty tricks’ in its dealings with communities. The allegations come from community leaders and non-Governmental organisations who have tracked the company’s operations on the ground in Borneo, Sumatra, Uganda andNigeria. In 2013, the company which trades some 45% of globally traded palm oil adopted a far-reaching policy to only deal in commodities with‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’. Yet reports suggest even its own operations are in violation of standards it signed up to in 2005.

Criminalising community leaders

In West Sumatra, Wilmar subsidiary PT PHP1 is accused by the Minangkabau community of Kapa of criminalising them after they raised a complaint with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). In 2014, the community noticed that Wilmar was seeking to get a permit to take over their lands without their agreement. They formally appealed to the RSPO to stop the company obtaining a business license as this would permanently extinguish their rights. In November 2014 community members travelled to the RSPO Roundtable meeting in Kuala Lumpur, with the help of Forest Peoples Programme, to meet with the company and RSPO staff. In front of RSPO officials, Wilmar agreed to meet with community members and the government land bureau to explore alternative legal means of securing their plantation without extinguishing community rights.

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