Wednesday, May 22, 2013

About 700 to go jobless as Herakles suspends activities in Cameroon

Bruce Wrobel
The American agro-industrial company, Herakles Farms which has been criticized by many civil societies in Cameroon has finally convex to pressure and hanged up its operations in Cameroon.
In a release signed by the CEO of Herakles Farms, Bruce Wrobel explains that the suspension is in response to an order it received from the Government of Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry & Wildlife (MINFOF).
The order requests that the Company cease preparing land near its Talangaye nursery, the resumption of activities until further notice.
The company notes that the order comes at a time when the Company’s main activity is the transfer of young trees from the nurseries to their permanent places in the field near the village of Talangaye. 
“The Company had obtained permission to proceed and always has and will comply fully and transparently with government regulations in force”, the release reads.
The Control Commission of the Forestry and Wildlife Ministry had summoned Herakles Farms which is operating in Cameroon through its subsidiary outfit SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC) to stop its operations in the country since 2012.
According to the release, “the Company is diligently working with Cameroonian Government officials to resolve the matter as quickly as possible”.
With 690 full-time staff, the release says the company will have to lay off some staff to meet up expenses until the problem is resolved.
“Given the uncertain timeframe for resuming development, SG-SOC is reducing and furloughing its workforce of 690 full-time employees”, the release reads.
Besides, the release says the Company’s community and work force development programs will remain in doubt until a resolution with the Government of Cameroon can be found.
“The company finds these events especially tragic and will do all it can to achieve a positive outcome”, notes management in the release.
On September 17, 2009, Herakles Farms through its subsidiary, SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC (SGSOC) signed a contract with the Cameroon government to develop a large industrial palm oil plantation and refinery on 73,086 hectares of land in Mundemba, Toko and Nguti in the South West Region of Cameroon.
Since then, the American agro-industrial company has been subjected to criticisms from local and international civil society organizations, including WWF.
In 2012, the Center for Environment and Development (CED) published a study which indicated that a weak Environmental Impact Assessment was presented to the government of Cameroon prior to the signing of the contract amongst other things.
On April 19, 2013, a study jointly conducted by Greenpeace and ACDIC elucidated that the Herakles Farms project could lead to food insecurity in Cameroon.

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