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Large-scale palm oil monoculture production in Uganda has led to a process of destruction of forests, which are key ecosystems for the lives of several communities in the country.
Real World Radio interviewed NAPE – Friends of the Earth Uganda representative,
David Kureeba, also coordinator of the Forests and Biodiversity Program of Friends of the Earth Africa, to learn more about the impacts of large scale palm oil production in his country.
Linking the issue to forest logging, Kureeba lamented that this contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
In an article published in December, activist and journalist Jeff Conant, of Friends of the Earth US said that the “world´s leading killer” of tropical forests is palm oil. He also explained that palm oil derivatives are present in cookies, ice cream, shampoo, chocolate, just to name a few. (See: http://www.foe.org/news/blog/2013-12-whats-driving-the-palm-oil-industrys-human-rights-ab)
Conant argued that contrary to what industrial analysts say “palm oil isn’t in all these products because you demanded it, because it’s healthy, or because it tastes good (it doesn’t). It’s there because it’s cheap. Palm oil is cheap because it’s produced by a global industry built on land grabbing, human rights abuses and environmental devastation”. In addition, palm oil “gives high returns on investment”.
The member of Friends of the Earth US highlighted that the African rain forest belt is suffering from the palm oil “boom”. Millions of acres of forest are converted to plantations from Liberia to Cameroon in West Africa, across the heart of the continent to Uganda and Madagascar in the east.
The US organization launched a report in November about a company named Bumitama Agri, which sells most of its palm oil to Wilmar International, a Singapore-based company that controls nearly half of the global palm oil trade. Real World Radio asked Kureeba about the presence of these companies in Uganda.
Towards the end of the interview, the NAPE member talked about the coordination work with other organizations from different countries to work on this and other issues and he highlighted the importance of exchanging information.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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