Deal #1159

Location #1

Spatial accuracy level
Administrative region
Location
Ndian, Cameroon

Target country
Cameroon
Comment on location
NDIAN , Mundemba (5,384ha) and Toko (1,264ha) regions

Location #2

Spatial accuracy level
Administrative region
Location
Nguti, Cameroon

Target country
Cameroon
Comment on location
13,195ha

Land area

Intended size (in ha)
100000.0
Size under contract (leased or purchased area, in ha)
[2013] 19843
Comment on land area
The company claimed rights on 73,086ha since 2009 until the official lease was signed in 2013. A logging permit was issued to a company called Uniprovince (controlled by Herakles via SGSOC) for 2,500 ha of land within the Herakles concession in 2014. Uniprovince is alleged to have used this license as a cover to transport large volumes of timber that were felled illegally between 2010 and 2013 by SGSOC, prior to the company’s land lease being finalized.

Intention of investment

Intention of the investment
Agriculture unspecified, Timber plantation (for wood and fibre)
Comment on intention of investment
It planed to set up nurseries and oil palm plantations on 60,000 ha, as well as processing plants. The remaining 12,000 ha was to be "protected as environmentally and socially sensitive resource areas, for planting and social infrastructure and as land for village livelihood activities

Nature of the deal

Nature of the deal
Lease
Comment on nature of the deal
MOU-- establishment convention-- signed in 2009 states duration of agreement is 99 years.

Negotiation status

Negotiation status
[2013] Concluded (Contract signed)
Comment on negotiation status
The actual lease was only signed in 2013 (MOU was signed 17:09:2009). The investment capital for this project is FCFA 400 billion. Lease expires in November 2016.

Implementation status

Implementation status
[2011] Startup phase (no production)
[2015] Project abandoned
[2015] In operation (production)
Comment on implementation status
Nursery set up and clearing of forest started. The operations have been suspended in 2013 after fierce criticism and protest from the local population and civil society. At the end of 2013 a short-term lease for 3 years was signed with the option to extend for 99 years depending on the level of investment the company can make in the first 3 years. The word on the ground points to a dire financial situation and an erosion of faith in Herakles Farms by investors and company’s own workers. Herakles Farms is attempting to rescue its dire financial situation by using its illegally obtained licence to export timber to China. Evidence of a whole range of breaches of regulations in the licensing and operation of the Herakles plantation has come to light. The company began to fell before receiving its EIA, in addition the company had to pay fines for felling outside of the scope of the EIA. All operations in the Mundemba, Toko and in Ndian Division were abandoned on May 29, 2015, with a slight chance that they will be brought into production again in the 2017/2018 season. The plantation came under under new leadership late in 2015, and land clearing has continued (pace of land clearing has in fact sped up). The company appears to have focused its efforts on salvaging the land for oil palm near the town of Nguti, while forsaking the other sites near the towns of Mundemba and Toko.

Leasing fees

Annual leasing fee
3333
Annual leasing fee currency
CFA Franc BEAC
Annual leasing fee type
per ha
Comment on leasing fees
With the new lease signed, the lease fee went up from 250-500 francs CFA (MOU signed in 2009 states lease fees are US$ 1.00 per hectare for land that is Developed Land (in the production area and yielding an annual harvest of not less than 10 tons of FFB per hectare), and US$ 0.50 per hectare for Land that is not Developed Land) to 3,333 francs CFA. The only payment required under the oil palm concession agreement between Herakles and the Cameroonian government is an annual ‘area rent’, which will provide just US$66,000 a year to the government once all of the land is planted. None of the leasing fees have been paid to date.

Contract farming

Contract farming
No
Comment on contract farming
One report states that the company offered small oil palm plantation development.

Contract #1

Contract date
2013-11
Duration of the agreement (in years)
99
Comment on contract
they had 2 contracts emphyteutic lease (99-year lease) contract and 3-year provisional concession in the Presidential decrees of Dec 2013

Number of total jobs created

Jobs created (total)
Yes
Planned number of jobs (total)
7500

Number of domestic jobs created

Jobs created (domestic)
Yes
Planned number of jobs (domestic)
1200
Current number of daily/seasonal workers (domestic)
[2008] 900
Comment on jobs created (domestic)
The company has been ordered to pay $4.6 million by a court in Cameroon over alleged discrimination in its hiring practices. Allegations of non-payment of salaries have been raised against the company. All employees in the Mundemba, Toko and in Ndian Division have been laid off. Employees at the Limbe office have also been laid off.

Operating company

Comment on investment chain
The logging permit was issued to Uniprovince (a company controlled by Herakles via SGSOC). Jonathan Johnson Watts was named “chairman and general manager” in 2015. Conflicting information on whether Herakles is still the investor (2015). was owned until 2015 by Herakles Farms, a US company. New investors have named Briton Jonathan Johnson-Watts as Chief Operating Officer- it is not clear who the new investor is. New investor might be TSP Capital Management (US).

 

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Data source #1

Data source type
Company sources
File
Comment on data source
Company website

Data source #2

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2015-02-13
Comment on data source
Farmland grab- Oil palm production: Ministerial committee inspects sites in SW

Data source #3

Data source type
Contract
File
Date
2009-09-17
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-9515165470

Data source #4

Data source type
Government sources
File
Comment on data source
Government decree for land lease 1

Data source #5

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Above all laws... Published by CED.

Data source #6

Data source type
Media report
File
Comment on data source
Press communication from CED NGO.

Data source #7

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2013-11-13
Comment on data source
Grain- Cameroon activist takes on land grabber from Wall Street, now faces imprisonment

Data source #8

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2014-05-27
Comment on data source
Farm Land Grab- Herakles Farms: Champions of illegal deforestation

Data source #9

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Forest Trends Report Series- Consumer Goods and Deforestation: An Analysis of the Extent and Nature of Illegality in Forest Conversion for Agriculture and Timber Plantations, September 2014. pg 96 and pg 100

Data source #10

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Backroom bullying. The role of the US government in the Herakles Farms' land grab in Cameroon.

Data source #11

Data source type
Government sources
File
Comment on data source
Government decree for land lease 3

Data source #12

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2012-05-14
Comment on data source
Farmland Grab- How a US company is breaking laws and grabbing land in Africa

Data source #13

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Date
2013-02-01
Comment on data source
Herakles Farms au Cameroun : contre-exemple pour l’huile de palme by Greenpeace

Data source #14

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2016-05-09
Comment on data source
Farmland Grab- Unprecedented deforestation in old Herakles plantation, now under new management

Data source #15

Data source type
Government sources
File
Comment on data source
Government decree for land lease 2

Data source #16

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2014-01-07
Comment on data source
Greenpeace letter to halt operations causing destruction

Data source #17

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2015-06-04
Comment on data source
Farmland Grab- Herakles abandons all operations in Mundemba and Toko concession areas, Cameroon

Data source #18

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2014-08-19
Comment on data source
Farm Land Grab- Continued judicial harassment against Mr. Nasako Besingi

Data source #19

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2016-12-28
Comment on data source
Mail Online- After Asia, palm oil faces backlash in Africa

Data source #20

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2013-09-13
Comment on data source
Farm Land Grab- Cameroon forest people alarmed at shifting tactics of US palm oil firm

Data source #21

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Grain- planet palm oil, September 2014

Data source #22

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2014-01-08
Comment on data source
Farm Land Grab- US palm oil company fined $4.6m in discrimination suit

Data source #23

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Dispossessed at all costs? Remarks on the process of allocating land to SGSOC in Nguti sub-division, CED and Relufa, 2013

Data source #24

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2016-10-05
Comment on data source
Cameroun - Accaparement des terres: 244 fermiers camerounais portent plainte contre SGSOC, ex-filiale de la firme américaine Herakles

Data source #25

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2015-12-15
Comment on data source
Farmland Grab- Farmers, CSOs rally behind environmentalist jailed for exposing land grabbing in Cameroon

Data source #26

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Date
2013-01-03
Comment on data source
Fact finding mission on Herakles Farms (SGSOC) oil palm plantation project, February 2013

Data source #27

Data source type
Contract
File
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-9789955531
Comment on data source
SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC, Mundemba and Toko, Social Agreement, 2010

Data source #28

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2014-06-18
Comment on data source
Farm Land Grab- Land grabber's paradise: Cameroonian environmentalist faces trial

Data source #29

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2013-03-18
Comment on data source
Farm land Grab- Will Cameroon bear the brunt of Herakles’ implosion?

Data source #30

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Rainforest foundation - Seeds of destruction

Data source #31

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2013-05-22
Comment on data source
Reuters- U.S. Herakles farms halts Cameroon palm oil development

Data source #32

Data source type
Personal information
File
Date
2015-01-13
Includes in-country-verified information
Yes

Data source #33

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2016-10-05
Comment on data source
Cameroun - Accaparement des terres: 244 fermiers camerounais portent plainte contre SGSOC, ex-filiale de la firme américaine Herakles

Data source #34

Data source type
Contract
File
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-6785376397
Comment on data source
SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC, Nguti, Social Agreement, 2009

Data source #35

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
Publication title
Communities in Africa fight back against the land grab for palm oil
Date
2019-09-19

Consultation of local community

Community consultation
Limited consultation
Comment on consultation of local community
Chiefs signed a paper unknowingly which constituted proof of consultation with the locals. Locals have protested on several occasions, which has lead to arrests of the villagers from Police. Nasako Besingi, founder of Struggle to Economise Future Environment, is awaiting summons from the court to find out what he's been charged with. The other five who were arrested were charged with taking part in the organisation of an undeclared public meeting.Herakles has filed a separate case against Nasako, accusing him of defamation and suing him for damages. The villagers in the Nguti region fear that their land will be sold by Herkales and that they will be relocated.

How did the community react?

Community reaction
Rejection
Comment on community reaction
The community has been subject to arbitrary arrest and harassment by SGSOC, following strong resistance from the local communities regarding the project.

Displacement of people

Number of people actually displaced
244
Comment on displacement of people
244 Cameroonian farmers complained September 27 2016 against the planting of oil palm Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC) for violation of property rights.

Promised benefits for local communities

Promised benefits for local communities
Community shares in the investment project
Comment on promised benefits for local communities
SGSOC had to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with villages to ensure that there is no loss of village farms or plantations and provide farmland for future generations to avoid impacts related to food insecurity. SGSOC had to demarcate such farmland for each village in coordination with a team to be composed of the villagers, SGSOC personal, Subdivision Farm Council, and Regional Delegation of the Ministry of State Property and Land Tenure (august 2011 PGES)

Former land owner (not by constitution)

Former land owner
Community

Former land use

Former land use
Smallholder agriculture
Forestry
Conservation
Comment on former land use
A study on the land area has found the area to be home to the chimpanzee, forest elephant, rare primates such as the endangered drill and the critically endangered Preuss’s red colobus monkey, plus a number of indigenous fish species. The nature reserve adjacent to the project area forms the watershed for the Korup Park.

Former land cover

Former land cover
Forest land
Comment on former land cover
The organisation- Struggle to Economise Future Environment- established by Nasako Besingi- took the Herakles to court for breaking national and international environmental and human rights laws.

Detailed crop, animal and mineral information

Crops area
Oil Palm

Use of produce

Has domestic use
Yes
Has export
Yes

In country processing of produce

In country processing of produce
Yes
Comment on in country processing of produce
Once the Herakles plantation is fully developed and productive, it will nearly double Cameroon’s palm oil production.

Overall comment

Overall comment
All operations in the Mundemba, Toko and in Ndian Division were abandoned on May 29, 2015, with a slight chance that they will be brought into production again in the 2017/2018 season. The plantation came under under new leadership late in 2015, and land clearing has continued (pace of land clearing has in fact sped up). Jonathan Johnson Watts was named “chairman and general manager”. Conflicting information on whether Herakles is still the investor (2015).

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