Liberia says "no more land will be taken"

Is Liberia's president going cold on the palm oil industry? TrustLaw, Source: FERN - Fri, 21 Mar 2014;; Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf speaks during an interview with Reuters in Brussels, Nov. 25, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir; ...Johnson Sirleaf’s decision appears to signal a dramatic change of heart for a leader who has signed 30 percent of Liberia’s land over to foreign investors - with 1.5 million acres allotted to palm oil companies - in a country where, as one NGO worker put it, ministers seem “drunk with the idea that international investment will bring economic recovery”.....The dispute with EPO, which began two years ago, was the latest clash between rural Liberians and companies rushing to acquire land to feed the growing global market for palm oil – a product found in around a third of products on supermarket shelves, according to one jaw-dropping estimate.....Widely reported complaints have been made against the Singapore-controlled Golden Veroleum (GVL), which holds a 350,000-hectare oil palm concession in south-western Liberia, and the Malaysian corporation Sime Darby, whose 311,187 hectare operation is in the north, and was recently the target of a suspected arson attack..... Allegations against EPO surfaced in 2012, when villagers living by the company’s Palm Bay Estate in Grand Bassa County accused the company of clearing their land and planting oil palm there without their consent. EPO insists all the land it has used has been legally acquired.
....Now, with the promise that no more land will be taken, the mood in Grand Bassa is one of elation. Whatever motivated the president’s decision – a political calculation driven by upcoming Senatorial elections, pressure from local and international NGOs, or maybe even the strength of the villagers’ case - any reversal of her position in a land where four fifths of the rural population endure hunger and malnutrition would mean trouble..... In November, the U.N.’s Panel of Experts on Liberia concluded that “large-scale palm oil development continues to pose significant challenges to peace and security in rural areas.” It’s a view echoed in the villages around EPO’s plantation.

UN report here:

Also read: Sime Darby: Liberia fire and doubt on Olam interest...