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New report cites land grabbing in oil palm project

Palm oil garden in Kalangala

Palm oil garden in Kalangala

A new report by Makerere University's Human Rights and Peace Center (HURIPEC) has pinned the National Oil Palm Project for illegal land acquisition in Kalangala and Buvuma districts.

The report that was compiled between June 2018 and May 2019, exposes fraud in the purchase of land for the expansion of palm oil project in the two districts. The study analyzed land ownership and transactions related to the National Oil Palm Project in Kalangala and Buvuma. It included a detailed assessment of land ownership, mapping of land contracts, the conditions, compensation, and the application of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in decision making.  

95 per cent of the 180 respondents were Bibanja holders while the remaining were licensees. The findings of the study are expected to feed into the proposed implementation of further land acquisitions in the new ten-year National Oil Palm Project (NOPP). The report also points to gross human rights violations by the Vegetable Oil Development Project (VOPD), land grabbing and irregular payments. 

"This research found that Uganda Land Commission skipped processes in land acquisition and compensated squatters on public land without first taking the necessary steps. Regarding private mailo land, all rights of bibanja holders (bona fide occupants) and licensees must be recognized, but the Uganda Land Commission created leaseholds in favor of OPUL [Oil Palm Uganda Limited],” reads part of the report. 

The study also shows that there wasn’t strict adherence to prior informed consent during land acquisition in Buvuma, while it was expected that the lessons learned from Kalangala should have informed better implementation in Buvuma. It also notes that differences in land tenure systems presented challenges in the successful and equitable application of the principles of free, prior and informed consent.   

“Awareness raising prior to land acquisition was skewed towards potential benefits, and failed to transmit information in the right forums, formats and languages. Valuation and compensation processes leading to land acquisition were not clear, leading to high numbers of very disgruntled bibanja holders and licensees. Those involved in land sales had no access to legal representation, and therefore could not get legal advice to aid decision-making during the sale process,” the report further reads.   

The report exonerates the Oil Palm Uganda Limited from accusations of growing palm oil fruits in forest reserves. This comes after the High court dismissed cases of encroachment against the oil palm growing company.  

Ronald Kakungulu Mayambala, the lead researcher says the research was based on the public outcry by the project affected person after their failure to get justice. 

However, Kyofa Kabuye, the project manager OPUL said that the research wasn’t based on facts since the researchers failed to liaise with the Agriculture ministry and Uganda Land Commission, which handled the land purchases.


0 #1 karemere 2019-08-01 15:19
Thank the gods, palms do not grow well in the "Omoro" districts. Akot, are you there?
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0 #2 rubangakene 2019-08-01 22:46

Actually palm trees can be grown in Omoro district if you put your mind to it. If you travel the Kampala- Gulu Road you could see tall palm trees (TUUGU) that grew out of seeds dropped by elephants/camels that Arabs used to ferry looted booty out Buganda into Sudan, Egypt and further afield. who would have believed that Arua supplied Matooke to Kampala when Museveni had cut of western Uganda in 1985/6!
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0 #3 Olum S. 2019-08-02 01:39
Palm oil has become an absolute menace to the areas it has been introduced. This is because they are grown on land that is first cleared of all its forests.

So, they are wiping out a huge area of extremely valuable forest cover, with its very many plant species and fauna, and replacing them all with just one species of crop.

In the regions around the world where this has happened, the inhabitants of the area targeted by the palm oil companies are usually terrorised, threatened, and even murdered by criminal gangs hoping make a financial killing; the aim being to drive the occupants out so their land can be grabbed, cleared and used for growing palm oil.

The inhabitants are then left homeless and broken, the forests that provided them with everything, that they used to call home will probably be gone for good. This is the tragedy of palm oil.
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