Aerial view of the palm oil plantation (bottom of the photo) encroaching into Kanneliya rainforest, south-west of Sri Lanka. (Photo: MONLAR)
Land grabs in Sri Lanka and the struggles in Udugama and Bibele
Land grabbing across Sri Lanka has exploded — villagers are evicted from their homes and land, as farms and forests are taken for tea, rubber, palm oil and banana plantations, and the development of tourist infrastructure such as all-inclusive hotels for mass tourism, all of which comes with huge environmental impacts.
These land grabs are a continuation of colonial practices, and they are necessitated by an export-oriented agricultural model. Global South countries are trapped in a vicious cycle. High levels of foreign debt, mean they must produce vast amounts of ‘cash crops’ for export to international markets as this is the only way they can earn the foreign currency needed to service their loans.
The Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) is pushing back. In this video produced by the War on Want, testimonies from the villagers of Udugama explain how a Plantation firm tacitly lay claim to the precious resources.