By Lucky Isibor
Land grabbing by multi national companies has been identified as a threat to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the elimination of hunger by 2030.
The Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo made the observation in his opening remarks during a training workshop on forestry laws and protection of communal land rights in Edo state held Wednesday at the Precious Palm Royal Hotel, Benin City.
The Environmentalist stressed that the increased global demand for palm oil has resulted in land grabbing by multi national palm plantation owners to expand their plantations.
According to him, “Across Africa, Asia and Latin America, there is a growing expansion of large scale oil palm plantations. The expansion is growing because of palm oil usage in wide range of products and manufacturing including lubricants, medicine, biofuels, cosmetics, soap making and oil for cooking.
“Land grabbing leads to scarcity of land for local food production. Local food production is hampered by land scarcity as some farmers have to pay exorbitant price for hire of parcels of land for farming of staples. Such trend is telling on the rising local food prices of yam tubers, cassava, plantain, banana and vegetables. The rising prices compound the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly Goal One which is working towards zero poverty and Goal Two, which is the elimination of hunger by 2030.”
While lamenting the inability of the local farmers whose land have been grabbed by some multi national companies to access justice, Ojo noted that land grabbing for oil palm plantation in Edo state has led to environmental degradation, human rights violations and conflicts in communities.
Farmers and stakeholders from Odiguetue, Odighi, Okomu, Ehor, Umokpe, Orhua, Uhiere, Ozalla, Sabogida Ora and Iulleha enumerated their challenges as a substantial part of their land has been taken over by Okomu Oil PLC.
They accused some members of the communities of joining forces with Okomu Oil to sustain the grabbing of their land and collecting juicy contracts from the company.
The stakeholders and farmers then suggested media tour of the communities to highlight the challenges faced by farmers and communities as a result of land grabbing to the world and the use of social media advocacy to draw attention to the menace.
They also resolved to make presentations to the Oba of Benin with a view to briefing him on the true situation of things in communities that are victims of land grabbing.
While calling on all Enigie and Edionwere to reside in their various communities, they also agreed to educate the farmers and local community members on effective land usage.
Efforts to get Okomu Oil PLC’s reaction on accusation of land grabbing failed.
However, in an earlier reaction Okomu Oil PLC said it is not involved in land grabbing and the company is a responsible corporate citizen and that so many people have been empowered in the communities they operate.