Deal #1396

Location #1

Spatial accuracy level
Administrative region
Location
Butaw, Liberia

Target country
Liberia
Comment on location
Butaw plantation, Sinoe. Villagers rioted on the Butaw plantation in May 2015, resulting in a hault of acitivites on the land until July 2015. Negotiation is on-going with the community, however as a result of the riot, operations will be scaled back. In accordance, 330 employees have already been laid off.

Location #2

Spatial accuracy level
Administrative region
Location
Grand Kru, Liberia

Target country
Liberia
Comment on location
Development is occurring at this site

Location #3

Spatial accuracy level
Administrative region
Location
Maryland, Liberia

Target country
Liberia

Location #4

Spatial accuracy level
Administrative region
Location
River Cess, Liberia

Target country
Liberia

Location #5

Spatial accuracy level
Administrative region
Location
River Gee, Liberia

Target country
Liberia

Land area

Intended size (in ha)
220000.0
Size under contract (leased or purchased area, in ha)
[2010] 220000
Size in operation (production, in ha)
[2015] 12000
Comment on land area
In 2010: concession area 220,000ha plus 40,000ha for outgrowers (contract and farmland grab articles). Conflicting information over hectares obtained- Ecofys report states 240 000 hectares. The company is scaling back the Butaw plantation. Company director states size under contract and intended size is 220 000ha. Another data source states size is 36593.96.

Intention of investment

Intention of investment
Agriculture unspecified

Nature of the deal

Nature of the deal
Lease

Negotiation status

Negotiation status
[2010] Concluded (Contract signed)
Comment on negotiation status
Option to extend lease to 99 years. The 220 000 is not a set lease area but development area is subject to agreement with communities - there are NO hectares (sites) defined in the concession agreement. The concession agreement merely allows for the company to acquire a total of 220 000 ha from communities. The agreement was signed with the government in 2010, however the agreements with the communities are on-going. The company signed an MOU for 13354ha in 2014 (already included in the 220 000ha) from community members. The company forced the community to sign four additional MOU's in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak, once community leaders would not attend meetings due to Ebola. The community members signed but do not know what the MOU states.

Implementation status

Implementation status
[2010] Startup phase (no production)
[2015] In operation (production)
Comment on implementation status
The first nursery was established in 2010. Land clearance first commenced in December 2010 and accelerated in September 2011, before being halted by a December 2012 freeze on plantation expansion requested by the RSPO in response to community complaints. Plantation expansion re-commenced during 2013 and 2014, in Sinoe (Butaw) and Grand Kru counties. The community claims that the company used the Ebola outbreak to clear more land, as community leaders were dealing with the Ebola outbreak. GVL’s nursery has 3 million seedlings waiting to be planted. GVL suspended the operations on the Butaw plantation following the rioting by the villagers in May 2015. The plantation was re-opened for partial activities in July 2015. One of the conditions for the re-opening of the plantations is that the police provide increased presence in the area. The company reaffirmed in 2017 that the plantation will continue production and will not be closed or sold.

Leasing fees

Annual leasing fee
5
Annual leasing fee currency
US Dollar ($)
Annual leasing fee type
per ha
Comment on leasing fees
US$5.00/yr/dev ha, US$1.25/yr/undev ha (10yrs), US$2.50/yr/undev ha (55yrs). To be reviewed every 5 years but not to increase more than 20%

Contract farming

Contract farming
Yes
On leased / purchased area
Yes
On leased / purchased area (in ha)
40000
Comment on contract farming
The MOU includes the development of programs that allow villagers to sell their own palm oil to GVL. Liberian farmers work with the company to achieve high yields and will sell fruit to the company for processing at transparent pricing

Contract #1

Contract date
2010-07-01
Duration of the agreement (in years)
65

Number of domestic jobs created

Jobs created (domestic)
Yes
Planned number of jobs (domestic)
40000
Current number of jobs (domestic)
[2015] 2000
Comment on jobs created (domestic)
Employees are paid US$120 per month. The company employs roughly 2000 locals throughout their plantations. More than 1100 employees in 2015 on the Butaw plantation - employment was suspended after the riots in May 2015, with less than half of the employees returning in July 2015. The company has since laid off 330 employees in an effort to scale back the Butaw plantation. 3600 people have been employed to date (September 2017).

Operating company

Comment on investment chain
Golden Veroleum is owned by the Verdant Fund LP (based in the Cayman Islands), whose sole investor is Singapore-listed palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources, part of Sinar Mas Group. ABN AMRO and Rabobank finances various parts of the palm oil conglomerate Golden Agri-Resources.

 

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Data source #1

Data source type
Contract
File
Date
2010-09-01
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-5399370669
Comment on data source
Contract between GOL and Golden Veroleum

Data source #2

Data source type
Personal information
Date
2015-11-10
Includes in-country-verified information
Yes
Comment on data source
Director of GVL

Data source #3

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2018-02-05
Comment on data source
The New Dawn- GVL refutes debt claims by Tropical

Data source #4

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Grain- The global farmland grab in 2016: how big, how bad?

Data source #5

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Forest Peoples Programme- Hollow promises: An FPIC assessment of Golden Veroleum and Golden Agri-Resource’s palm oil project in south-eastern Liberia

Data source #6

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Date
2013-08-01
Comment on data source
"Oil palm in Africa:Past, present and future scenarios" by Ricardo Carrere from Rain Forest Movement, 2010 (updated in 08/2013)

Data source #7

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2014-02-21
Comment on data source
Farm land Grab- Liberia: Sinoe complains GVL to Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil

Data source #8

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Date
2014-11-03
Comment on data source
Commercial Farms in Africa- received from Ward

Data source #9

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Ecofys- Land Grabs for biofuels driven by EU biofuels policies, Carlo Hamelinck, 2013

Data source #10

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2015-10-05
Comment on data source
Farmland grab -- Riot on the plantation

Data source #11

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Date
2016-10-19
Comment on data source
Global Witness- Temples and Guns

Data source #12

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2017-09-04
Comment on data source
Liberia: GVL Reaffirms Commitment to Working in Liberia

Data source #13

Data source type
Contract
File
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-4309944481
Comment on data source
Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc., Jarbo, Social Agreement, 2014

Data source #14

Data source type
Company sources
File
Date
2010-08-16
Comment on data source
Company Announcement--Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc signs Oil Palm Concession Agreement with Government of Liberia

Data source #15

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Date
2013-02-01
Comment on data source
The Forest Trust's Independent Assessment of Free, Prior and Informed Consent Process by Golden Veroleum, February 2013

Data source #16

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2010-01-12
Comment on data source
Farmland grab- Liberia: GOL and Golden Veroleum in US$ 1.6bn negotiation

Data source #17

Data source type
Personal information
Date
2015-11-09
Includes in-country-verified information
Yes
Comment on data source
Director of GVL

Data source #18

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2013-03-23
Comment on data source
Reuters- Largest Liberian palm oil project is failing locals: study

Data source #19

Data source type
Other (Please specify in comment field)
File
Comment on data source
Liberia National concession portal

Data source #20

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2015-07-23
Comment on data source
Farmland Grab- Palm oil in Liberia: violence, threats, and false promises

Data source #21

Data source type
Contract
File
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-9564662418
Comment on data source
Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc., Numopoh, Social Agreement, 2014

Data source #22

Data source type
Contract
File
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-3613041803
Comment on data source
Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc., Nemiah, Piddy and Nyabo, Social Agreement, 2014

Data source #23

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2015-07-23
Comment on data source
Farmland Grab- Liberians 'pressured to sell land' for palm oil plantations

Data source #24

Data source type
Contract
File
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-1212335714
Comment on data source
Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc., Tarjuowon, Social Agreement, 2013

Data source #25

Data source type
Media report
File
Comment on data source
Sustainable development institute- what does the contract say? Golden Veroleum Liberia

Data source #26

Data source type
Company sources
File

Data source #27

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2014-07-23
Comment on data source
Farmland Grab- Palm oil land grab during Liberian ebola crisis caused abuses

Data source #28

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Date
2014-10-30
Comment on data source
Communities as Counterparties: Preliminary Review of Concessions and Conflict in Emerging and Frontier Market Concessions.

Data source #29

Data source type
Media report
File
Comment on data source
Sustainable development institute reaction to Ecofys report

Data source #30

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

Data source #31

Data source type
Contract
File
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-7555440452
Comment on data source
Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc., Gbanken, Beloken and Ylatwen, Social Agreement, 2014

Data source #32

Data source type
Contract
File
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-7997504378
Comment on data source
Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc., Trembo, Social Agreement, 2013

Data source #33

Data source type
Contract
File
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-0504208937
Comment on data source
Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc., Zoloken, Social Agreement, 2013

Data source #34

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
Locals Seek Justice Against Oil Palm Companies
Date
2019-10-21

Consultation of local community

Community consultation
Limited consultation
Comment on consultation of local community
The Sinoe community has reported Golden Veroleum to the roundtable on sustainable oil palm as the company is currently engaged in active land clearing on our customary land without our free prior informed consent as well as violating the RSPO New planting procedures which requires Golden Veroleum to not proceed with any land preparation, any new planting or infrastructure development. Several members of the Sinoe community have been arrested for attending meetings regarding the project. View the report by Forest Peoples Programme for more information on the consultation process. Public meetings where landowners were encouraged to hand over their land to GVL were watched over by powerful local officials, and in at least one case armed police. Global Witness also documents several accounts of violent assaults and arbitrary arrests of those who voiced their concerns. The MOU was not read to the communities. In October 2015, the Butaw Welfare and Development Association (BWDA) of Butaw District, Sinoe County has officially withdrawn the letter of complaint that was lodged against Golden Veroleum Liberia Incorporated in 2012 which resulted into imposing sanctions on GVL operations in Butaw District since 2012. While other communities reported to have Free, prior and informed consent (such as Wedabo-Juduken and Wedabo).

How did the community react?

Community reaction
Mixed reaction
Comment on community reaction
According to The Forest Trust (TFT) there is materiality to a number of the claims made by the communities (see Reuters press release).

Presence of land conflicts

Presence of land conflicts
Yes
Comment on presence of land conflicts
In May 2015 the community had violent protests (riots) about the Butaw plantation. Villagers were beaten by the police during the riot, whilst managers of the plantations and workers were smuggled off the plantations in the trucks of cars. Villagers stole company and personal property of employees to the value of $736,509.58. The Liberian president has spoken about the protests by the community members, as she states it is chasing away further investors. Local dissent against the GVL land grab was silenced by beatings, threats, and arbitrary detention. Some villagers were detained until Mid August, following the riots in May- while one villager died in the police cells.

Displacement of people

Number of people actually displaced
41000

Negative impacts for local communities

Negative impacts for local communities
Cultural loss
Displacement
Comment on negative impacts for local communities
Adverse impacts include insufficient land and forest areas for community to farm/forage and sacred areas have been damaged.

Promised or received compensation

Promised compensation (e.g. for damages or resettlements)
Communities have not been compensated for the loss of future income but only for land and crops per area and is not in compliance with “Price for economic crops damaged during development projects” published by the Ministry of Agriculture on August 20th, 2012. Golden Veroleum must pay the community development fund $5 for every hectare it plants.
Received compensation (e.g. for damages or resettlements)
Communities have not been compensated for the loss of future income but only for land and crops per area and is not in compliance with “Price for economic crops damaged during development projects” published by the Ministry of Agriculture on August 20th, 2012. Golden Veroleum must pay the community development fund $5 for every hectare it plants.

Promised benefits for local communities

Promised benefits for local communities
Health
Education
Roads
Capacity Building
Financial Support
Comment on promised benefits for local communities
The company will provide direct employment for an estimated 40000 persons, as well as develop infrastructure, train out growers and provide them low cost seedlings for cultivation and production of final brand of consumer products for local consumption and export to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries. The company has not delivered its promises as of July 2015, only six toilets have been built. The MOU includes the development of the community through education initiatives and programs that allow villagers to sell their own palm oil to GVL. Company has rehabilitated hand pumps.

Presence of organizations and actions taken (e.g. farmer organizations, NGOs, etc.)

Presence of organizations and actions taken (e.g. farmer organizations, NGOs, etc.)
In May 2015 the community had violent protests (riots) about the Butaw plantation. Villagers were beaten by the police during the riot, whilst managers of the plantations and workers were smuggled off the plantations in the trucks of cars. Villagers stole company and personal property of employees to the value of $736,509.58. The Liberian president has spoken about the protests by the community members, as she states it is chasing away further investors. Local dissent against the GVL land grab was silenced by beatings, threats, and arbitrary detention. Some villagers were detained until Mid August, following the riots in May- while one villager died in the police cells. Representatives from communities visited the ABN AMRO and Rabobank, both in the Netherlands, in October 2019 to request the bank takes action against the investor. The community is supported by Milieudefensie, Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) and WALHI. In February 2019, the bank announced that communities could come and report on rights violations by its clients who should provide remedy, but now state that they only have an indirect link to the deals and there is little they can do.

Former land owner (not by constitution)

Former land owner
Community

Former land use

Former land use
Smallholder agriculture
Forestry

Former land cover

Former land cover
Cropland
Forest land
Marginal land
Comment on former land cover
Majority of the land under the concession falls within well established and ecologically important forests.

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
The company is building the oil palm processing plant (2015). Mill opened in August 2017 in Tarjuowon District, Sinoe County.

Water extraction envisaged

Water extraction envisaged
Yes

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