Palm oil companies are planning to convert 20,000 hectares of land in the Philippines' Palawan Man & Biosphere Reserve. 6,000 hectares have already been cleared, endangering biodiversity, water resources, topsoil quality and the livelihood of farmers and indigenous peoples, while exacerbating rural poverty. If oil palm expansion is allowed to continue, the environmental and ecological sustainability of the province and local food security will be severely compromised.
While Agumil Philippines, Inc. – the largest palm oil company in Palawan – freely exports palm oil to Malaysian buyers, local farmers have nothing to feed their families or anything to take to the local market. “Agumil does not even allow us to intercrop cassava on our land, which they have converted into oil palm plantations,” says Jerry Azucena of the newly established Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG). “They have destroyed our lives, and sooner or later they will have to compensate us,” he adds.
The joint call of indigenous peoples and farmers asking Governor Jose C. Alvarez for a moratorium on oil palm expansion is the only workable solution to reverse this trend. The provincial government must take effective action without delay. Please support their petition.