When a multi national palm oil company expanded into Sierra Leone, rainforests were leveled and local livelihoods disappeared. Some say that this is the price of development while others want their land back.
Socfin, company which is registered in Switzerland but has its headquarters in Belgium, has over the past four years planted 12,432 hectacre (30,720 acres) of oil palms in Sierra Leone. The company came to Sahn Malen in 2012 and leased swaths of land. It planted oil palms and built an ultra-modern processing plant.
Palm oil is the planet's new "super oil." According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), palm oil is present in about half of all products in supermarkets in Germany. It's in cakes, margarine, make-up and ice cream. It is also used as a bio diesel in the European Union (EU). The global consumption of palm oil is growing. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that consumption will double by 2050. So it is not surprising that investment in palm oil is climbing.
However the oil is controversial. Some say that is could be a potent tool against global poverty especially in countries where it is already a staple food and where increases in yield could benefit many of these emerging markets. Others say that the spread of palm oil plantations is a threat to rainforests and the indigenous people who live there.