Land conflicts and shady finances plague DR Congo palm oil company backed by development funds | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
November 2016
Resource Language: 
Pages: 
19
License of the resource: 
Copyright details: 
© GRAIN 2016

European and US development funds are bankrolling palm oil company Feronia Inc despite land and labour conflicts at its plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). New information now raises questions as to whether the Canadian-based company misused millions of taxpayer dollars destined for international aid by way of companies connected to a high-level DRC politician.

This report brings together new information showing how Canadian-based agribusiness company Feronia Inc, majority owned by the UK government's CDC and other European and US development banks, occupies over 100,000 ha of disputed lands in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The report also provides evidence that raises questions about whether Feronia Inc may have misused millions in aid money destined for Africa by way of companies connected to a high-level DRC politician.

Aid money provided by government-owned European and US development finance institutions (DFIs) is supposed to alleviate poverty. However, as this report shows, the living conditions for communities within Feronia's oil palm plantation concessions remain abysmal. The company occupies lands that are essential to the livelihoods of local people and fails to provide decent wages and basic services.

This report was produced by a coalition of civil society organisations in the DRC and Europe. It builds on a June 2015 report that brought international attention to the human rights violations, poverty, labour exploitation and land grabs occurring within the company's claimed concession areas—as well as the company's connections to a high level DRC politician.[1] Despite the concerns raised by that report, Feronia's initial DFI investors continued to provide funding to the company and, in December 2015, several other DFIs agreed to provide an additional round of financing in the amount of US$49 million. In this report we provide further evidence of Feronia’s questionable land deals and poor labour practices, and expose for the first time how the company employed a complex and opaque financial mechanism that raises troubling questions about how it spent funds provided by the DFIs.

The report reveals a troubling lack of due diligence regarding the use of public funds by DFIs, all of which claim to follow high standards of responsible investment. The authors of this report therefore call for public investigations into the activities of Feronia and the involvement of DFIs by relevant government bodies. We also call for an independent international fact finding mission to investigate human rights violations and other violations allegedly committed by the company against local communities. To ensure accountability, the DFIs—as the major shareholders of Feronia and the primary providers of finance to the company—should immediately act to make public the full financial accounts of Feronia and each of its subsidiaries, as well as the legal documents that Feronia claims to possess for its land concessions in the DRC. The authors of this report also call on Feronia and its DFI owners to adhere to the longstanding demands of affected communities for the immediate return of their lands and for reparations.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

RIAO-RDC, AEFJN, Entraide et Fraternité, GRAIN, SOS Faim, UMOYA, urgewald, War on Want and WRM

Publisher(s): 

GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and international levels, and fostering new forms of cooperation and alliance-building. Most of our work is oriented towards, and carried out in, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Data provider

GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and international levels, and fostering new forms of cooperation and alliance-building. Most of our work is oriented towards, and carried out in, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

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