Abuse in the Palm Oil Industry

by Luca Catalano Gonzaga

In Liberia, international companies are taking over 1.5 million acres of land, causing problems for local communities, including loss of their land, livelihoods, and negative environmental impact. One of these companies is the multinational Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO), accused by various NGOs of illegally clearing land and not consulting or supporting local communities. Many of the land acquisitions in Liberia were made during the country’s civil war and in the subsequent period, when the government was weak and unable to effectively regulate property transactions, often without local community consent and with little or no compensation. Child labor is also a significant issue in the palm oil industry in Liberia. Children are employed for tasks such as land clearing, planting, fruit picking, and heavy lifting. They are also used for dangerous tasks such as using machinery and handling chemicals. Poverty and lack of labor regulation are some of the main reasons for this phenomenon. In Buchanan, in particular, there have been serious human rights violations in the palm oil industry, including forced eviction of local communities, destruction of their homes and agricultural land, and exploitation of workers, including children. (text by Luca Catalano Gonzaga).