In April 2015, farming communities in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cambodia began occupying the oil palm and rubber plantations of the Luxemburg-based Socfin Group, majority-held and controlled by the Belgian Fabri family, prosecuted for fraud. Since 2008, Socfin has been expanding its plantations and in Africa alone it has grown by 24 per cent, rising to nearly 110,000 hectares by 2014. The expansion has allegedly come at the expense of local communities: in Cameroon, 6,000 people are being deprived of their land; in Liberia, 2,000; 1,000 in Ivory Coast; 800 families in Cambodia; and 200 families in Sierra Leone.
Farmers around the globe are united in denouncing the violation of community rights by Socfin-Bolloré and are demanding recognition of their rights, protection of their livelihoods, adequate compensation for lost land, and mechanisms for conflict resolution. The farmers’ movement says it will continue its action until Socfin-Bolloré agrees to embark on a negotiation process and to continue its occupations in the five countries concerned until the annual shareholder meetings of Socfin (27 May) and its biggest shareholder, the Bolloré Group (4 June).