Deal #3109

Location #1

Spatial accuracy level
Coordinates
Location
Mapiripán, Meta, Colombia

Latitude
3.0067
Longitude
-72.1813
Target country
Colombia
Contract area
Comment on location
This deal location is compounded by 7 neighboring plots in the municipality of Mapiripán, Meta. According to the company and georreferenced data for the RSPO certification, they let 3 areas to be certified for this. They are the farms known as "Macondo", "Barandales" and "Las Toninas". Additional to it, the plots known as "Yamú" and "Bogante" are defined by the company as "Strategic Alliances", which mean that independents accept to give their lands for their plantations with renting contracts. Nevertheless, both of the last ones belonged to independent companies represented by the same representative of Poligrow Colombia. According to the company, they also own the farm known as "Majadero" and "Cristalina", the first one being impossible to locate with cadastre data. Finally, in a certification of Naturacert, it is stated that one of their properties is known as Santa Marta. The information was corroborated with georreferenced cadastre data of the Instituto Geográfico Agustín Codazzi and satellite imagery. According to some media reports, the company tried to purchase the holding known as "Hacienda Santa Ana" which has 70000 hectares, but it generated a legal problem in which the company is currently involved. For more detail on location see: Source 5 Source 6 Source 7 Source 16 Source 17: https://www.rspo.org/acop/2016/poligrow-colombia-ltda/po-23g_rac_certificado_grupo_v2_%20Poligrow.pdf

Land area

Size under contract (leased or purchased area, in ha)
[2017] 11226
Size in operation (production, in ha)
[2007] 6552
Comment on land area
This information was obtained from Source 19, an own report of Poligrow to obtain the RSPO certification. Nevertheless, comparing the information obtained with information from media reports, company sources and the reports for the RSPO, the polygons above show that the company might have possession of 28951. This information has not been corroborated on site.

Intention of investment

Intention of investment
[2013] Biofuels
Comment on intention of investment
The company invested USD 6302000 for the project. They intended to enter the oil palm market with plantations and developing a mill in the area. In an interview to Carlo Vigna Taglianti done by the online portal "VerdadAbierta", the company has invested between 20 and 25 millions of US dollars. Source 10

Nature of the deal

Nature of the deal
Outright Purchase
Comment on nature of the deal
Poligrow has tried to acquire several land holdings in Colombia. Some of them have been acquired directly by Poligrow Colombia Ltda and others belong to ITA Aceites Vegetales (same legal representative) and Sociedad Mesa Cárdenas & Garcés SAS. The purchase process for the Hacienda Santa Ana (70000 hectares) has been demanded due to an inconsistency of the land rights. More details below Source 7

Negotiation status

Negotiation status
[2008-10-31] Failed (Contract cancelled)
[2009-01] Concluded (Contract signed)
Comment on negotiation status
This date refers to the Santa Ana purchase. The validity of this contract is under investigation because the company bought it in an special manner. Although this plot belongs to the state or the family Aljure (it is uncertain), the company offered some money to a few members of the family in exchange of the land. They were supposed to pay COP 50 Million for the contract, COP 320 Million when the farm is given and the rest (COP 3780 Million) as the farm is transferred from the members. Be aware that in spanish Billion is different to English. This means that the company was buying State land, which is prohibited by Colombian legislation. Macondo I and Macondo II were bought in January 2009 for USD 1306276 Macondo III was acquired for USD 326354 in July of 2008 Source 5 Source 7

Implementation status

Implementation status
[2017] In operation (production)

Purchase price

Purchase price
2300
Purchase price currency
Colombian Peso ($)
Purchase price area type
per ha
Comment on purchase price
The plot known as Barandales was bought for COP 2300 per Hectare. The plot known as Hacienda Santa Ana was supposed to be bought for USD 25 per hectare. Macondo I and Macondo II were bought in January 2009 for USD 1306276 Macondo III was acquired for USD 326354 in July of 2008 Source 6 Source 7

Contract farming

Contract farming
No

Number of total jobs created

Jobs created (total)
Yes
Current number of jobs (total)
500
Comment on jobs created (total)
Taken from the company website. No clear by what time this number corresponds. According to some workers interviewed in source 7, the company was having mostly outsourced labor, which was against the indications of the International Labor Organization. This means that the company was not paying for social security services. Additionally, the workers were having problems having access to medical care and pensions were not guaranteed by their direct employer (a form known as Cooperativa de Trabajo Asociado, common in the Oil Palm Industry in Colombia). It seems that a fraction of the workers are migrant labor, although Colombia. Some interviewees argue that they come for one month and don't come anymore because of the work conditions. In a letter from the RSPO to the manager of the company, they indicate that there are some issues with safety at the work place, that employment opportunities might be favoring some communities and not others, wages are too low, there are payment delays, there is a lack of protective equipment and healthcare is inadequate. Source 14 Source 7 Source 18

Operating company

Comment on investment chain
For more details on the investor tree see https://lasillavacia.com/historia/la-marana-de-tierras-y-empresas-de-poligrow-50391 (Source 13)

 

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Data source #1

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2013-01-01

Data source #2

Data source type
Media report
File
Date
2012-03-01

Data source #3

Data source type
Media report
File

Data source #4

Data source type
Media report
File

Data source #5

Data source type
Media report
File

Data source #6

Data source type
Media report
File

Data source #7

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File

Data source #8

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
Colombian Land Activist Threatened by Paramilitaries Linked to Oil Palm Company Poligrow
Date
2015-08-21

Data source #9

Data source type
Other (Please specify in comment field)
Date
2017-09-27
Comment on data source
NGO report

Data source #10

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
El Macondo de Mapiripán
Date
2013-04-22

Data source #11

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
Carlo Vigna Taglianti, director de la multinacional Poligrow, va a juicio
Date
2017-05-06

Data source #12

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
Absuelven a director de la multinacional Poligrow, Carlo Vigna Taglianti
Date
2017-08-17

Data source #13

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
La maraña de tierras y empresas de Poligrow
Date
2015-05-26
Comment on data source
Please see this source to have a deep investor tree for this case!!!

Data source #14

Data source type
Company sources
Publication title
Nuestros números
Comment on data source
Seen on Febrary 27, 2019

Data source #15

Data source type
Company sources
Comment on data source
Corporative video

Data source #16

Data source type
Company sources
Publication title
POLITICAS Y GARANTIAS DE PROTECCION DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS DE POLIGROW COLOMBIA S.A.S
Comment on data source
No date available. Retrieved on February 27, 2019

Data source #17

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
Publication title
El caso de Poligrow en Mapiripán, Meta: entre acaparamiento (ilegal) de tierras y capitalismo verde
Date
2017-07

Data source #18

Data source type
Other (Please specify in comment field)
File
Date
2017-08-02
Comment on data source
Letter from RSPO to the representative of Poligrow in Colombia

Data source #19

Data source type
Company sources
File
Date
2017
Comment on data source
Report of Poligrow for RSPO certification

Names of communities / indigenous peoples affected

Comment on communities / indigenous peoples affected
The company is holding land in ancestral places for the indigenous communities. Although the Ministry of Interior declared that in the area of the project there was not existence of indigenous communities, it indeed indicated that they were 6.5 Kms awar from the area of influence. The company is impeding their access and activities for their survival such as hunting others. Source 7 Source 9 Source 15 Source 17 Source 18

Consultation of local community

Community consultation
Not consulted
Comment on consultation of local community
According to a letter from the RSPO to Mr Vigna, there were not appropriate previous consultations about the project with the indigenous communities. Source 18

How did the community react?

Community reaction
Rejection
Comment on community reaction
The indigenous communities have led several demonstrations to have access the a sacred lake for them, which they cannot visit anymore because it is in the land holdings of the company Source 9

Presence of land conflicts

Presence of land conflicts
Yes
Comment on presence of land conflicts
There is a high degree of land informality in the area where the company is operating. Additionally, there has always been presence of armed groups in the area and some of them are threatening environmental, land right activists and some peasants to sell their lands. Furthermore, the company was recognized for the government of Colombia as being one of the companies accumulating irregularly land that was intended for landless peasants. Something that is prohibited by law 160 of 1994. One of their plots, Macondo, was sold in 2002 for COP 30 Million due to the conflict. It was bought by Poligrow for COP 4000 Million. After some time, the previous owner of the land was claiming for it because he never agreed to sell it. Due to the hard conflict in this area he had to leave. The government developed a law in 2008 in which no abandoned land could be transferred in those areas without the approval of the municipality council, which happened in 2008. It seems that there was corruption involved. Some witnesses argue that in the area is impossible to buy land without the paramilitary groups knowing about that and that paramilitary groups are threatening land right activists. Only in Mapiripán, from 1997 until 2007, 12812 people were displaced (not necessarily because of Poligrow), which means deep roots of the conflict in this area. This number might be underestimated, since not all displaced made the proper registration. Source 7 Source 8 Source 10

Negative impacts for local communities

Negative impacts for local communities
Environmental degradation
Socio-economic
Cultural loss
Violence
Comment on negative impacts for local communities
As previously mentioned, some workers and land right activists are being threaten. Respective cultural loss, the indigenous communities cannot enter their sacred areas anymore. Additionally, they might have food security shocks because they lost an area for their hunting and food collection. Not forgetting the possible conflicts between ethniasdue to the possible favoring of one of them by the company

Materialized benefits for local communities

Materialized benefits for local communities
Education
Roads
Financial Support
Comment on materialized benefits for local communities
The company is supporting some inhabitants with microcredits. It also invested in energy infrastructure that allowed the urban area to have electricity for 24 hours a day. Additionally, they are offering some scholarships to the best students of the secondary school. Source 4 Source 14

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

Presence of organizations and actions taken (e.g. farmer organizations, NGOs, etc.)
Peace Brigades International and Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz Source 9 Source 7

Former land owner (not by constitution)

Former land owner
State
Private (large-scale farm)
Comment on former land owner
Source 7 - Used mostly for livestock

Former land use

Former land use
Hunting/Gathering
Conservation
Other
Comment on former land use
Used previously for livestock ranches

Former land cover

Former land cover
Forest land
Shrub land/Grassland (Rangeland)
Marginal land

Detailed crop, animal and mineral information

Crops area
[2015-05] Jatropha, Oil Palm (7000 ha)
Crops yield
Oil Palm (9465 tons)
Comment on crops
Source 19

Detailed contract farming crop and animal information

Contract farming crops
Oil Palm (9107 ha)
Comment on contract farming crops
The land holdings known as Yamú and Bogante are used for their Strategic Alliances (sort of Contract farming). Nevertheless, the owners of those properties have Carlo Vigna as the legal representative, who is the same representative for Poligrow Colombia Ltda

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 only has an extraction mill
Processing facilities / production infrastructure of the project (e.g. oil mill, ethanol distillery, biomass power plant etc.)
Extraction mill

Water extraction envisaged

Water extraction envisaged
Yes
Comment on water extraction envisaged
The company asserts that it will try to use rainfall for its water demand and will ask for permissions for water extraction to the environmental authority. Nevertheless, the company was sanctioned by Cormacarena (Environment authority) and had to pay a fine. Furthermore the water permissions were suspended. The company has tried to collect water by constructing an illegal dike. Source 11 Source 16 Source 18

Source of water extraction

Source of water extraction
Surface water (River)

Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT)

Application of Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT)
No
Comment on VGGT
The company was sued by the INCODER (Land institution of Colombia) for accumulating former state land, which is not allowed under Colombian legislation. The company was supposed to openly buy a plot after smallholders apply for land allocations. It is known that there is presence of armed groups in the project's area of influence. They are threatening the workers of the company. There is a high degree of informality regarding the land rights. Mapiripán suffered one of the worst massacres in Colombia history, which caused thousands of civilians to leave the area. Poligrow purchased one plot which was left abandoned and for that a municipal committee should approve the acquisition. It seems that there was corruption in this case. There have been conflicts with indigenous groups, which argue that ancestral sites are located in the area of the company. That means that they cannot go there anymore and hunting and gathering for their survival is now prohibited. The company was also extracting water illegally; and finally, there was never a previous consultation with the communities close to the project. Source 17 Source 18 Source 7 Source 10

Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments (PRAI)

Application of Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments (PRAI)
No
Comment on PRAI
The company was sued by the INCODER (Land institution of Colombia) for accumulating former state land, which is not allowed under Colombian legislation. The company was supposed to openly buy a plot after smallholders apply for land allocations. It is known that there is presence of armed groups in the project's area of influence. They are threatening the workers of the company. There is a high degree of informality regarding the land rights. Mapiripán suffered one of the worst massacres in Colombia history, which caused thousands of civilians to leave the area. Poligrow purchased one plot which was left abandoned and for that a municipal committee should approve the acquisition. It seems that there was corruption in this case. There have been conflicts with indigenous groups, which argue that ancestral sites are located in the area of the company. That means that they cannot go there anymore and hunting and gathering for their survival is now prohibited. The company was also extracting water illegally; and finally, there was never a previous consultation with the communities close to the project. Source 17 Source 18 Source 7

Overall comment

Overall comment
This deal relate to the acquisition of approximately 12000 hectares by the company Poligrow. This number might be way too low, though, since the company had an agreement to purchase 70000 hectares of state land, after several smallholders apply for land allocations. This is prohibited by the law 160 of 1994, which means that Poligrow might be acting against the Colombian law. The company is currently in the production phase and has planted almost 7000 hectares of oil palm, although it also has Jatrofa fields. This company has been extremely controversial in Colombia because of the irregular accumulation of land it pretends to do. Additionally, it is located in a municipality where the conflict has been extremely constant and suffered in 1997 one of the worst massacres in Colombian history, done by paramilitary groups. Some of the plots that Poligrow acquired are under legal processes because they were left abandoned, and for this to be allowed, a municipal committee had to agree on that; it seems that this approval was given under cases of corruption (the mayor by these time is in jail for this). Additionally, land right and environmental activists, as well as workers of the company are being threaten by armed groups in the zone. Interviewees mention that it is strange that the legal representative of the company can move freely in this area, will every citizen has to be aware of the presence of these armed groups. The investor tree (see section above) signals that the company might have been creating fictional companies to have access to more land, which in theory is not illegal, but highly unethical, according to some congressmen in Colombia. Another critical point of this deal is the way it affects indigenous communities in the area. The Jiw and the Sikuani ethnic groups are not being allowed to their ancestral sites. Additionally, the hunting and gathering which is now prohibited in the areas of the company might put them under food constraints. Nevertheless, the government, by the Ministry of Interior, asserted that in the project's area of influence there were no Indigenous groups, although they were 6.5 Kms away. Legally, this means that the company is not obliged to make previous consultations.

Feb. 27, 2019, 11:45 a.m.

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May 14, 2018, 10:03 p.m.

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Feb. 25, 2016, 11:48 p.m.

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Feb. 23, 2013, 12:05 a.m.

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