PRIKRO The presence of SIAT, a Belgian company specialised in palm oil and rubber production, in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria, comes with a significant socio-economic and environmental cost for the local communities. With the support of the national governments, the company is causing social division, food scarcity and restlessness. The locals are fighting back, reclaiming their lands both at the national and international levels.
In its plantation in Prikro in Côte d’Ivoire, where it was concessed 11,000 hectares of land by the government, SIAT has contributed to the death and detention of numerous local residents, who were protesting its activities. The company’s activities have led to biodiversity loss and soil depletion through its rubber monoculture, as well as to deforestation, the result of cutting down the community’s sacred forest.
In Nigeria's Rivers States, where SIAT obtained the former assets of the state-owned company Risonpalm, totaling around 16,000 hectares, the company destroyed the local community’s water sources. Its use of fertilisers and chemicals for weeding, pest control and growth of the palm plantation have polluted their river.
The company is short-paying local Nigerian communities for occupying their land—by offering only $1 per hectare. This amount is three times less the price at which community residents now have to rent out a plot of farmland from neighboring communities each farming season, since SIAT took over their farmlands.
The communities in both Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria are fighting the land grabbings. In 2022, representatives from both countries as well as Ghana came to Brussels, Belgium to protest in front of SIAT’s headquarters. This led the company’s CEO to conduct local visits to Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana to discuss with the populations directly at the end of 2022. Concrete results stemming from these visits are yet to be seen.
Raluca revelled more details about working on this investigation in one of Journalismfund's webinars:
- SIAT Nigeria Land Grabbing, Pollution, Causing Hardship In Host Communities, Sahara Reporters, 3 March 2023;
- SIAT Nigeria land acquisition, pollution, causing hardship in host communities, NewsWireNGR, 1 March 2023;
- SIAT Nigeria land grabbing, pollution, causing hardship in host communities, farmlandgrab.com, 24/03/2023;
- RSPO member SIAT leaves Nigerian farmers without food. Sells their land back to them for €1.23 Euros per hectare, per year, Palm Oil Detectives, 24/03/2023;
- Belgická společnost SIAT Group je obviněna ze zabírání půdy a znečišťování v západní Africe, A2Larm, 08/04/2023.
- Palmolie: Belgische firma steelt grond in Nigeria, Climaxi, 29/03/2023
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