The World Bank has launched an investigation into its PNG Smallholder Agriculture Development Project’s (SADP) in Oro and West New Britain provinces at the request of the Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR), a NGO based in Port Moresby.
The request for inspection relates to two projects financed by the International Development Association (IDA). The request claims that “customary land owners from Oro province and affected smallholders in one of the three project areas had suffered and believed they were likely to suffer, serious harm from the design and implementation of the project.”
It appears that CELCOR is priming itself for a fight on palm oil.
CELCOR previously launched a scurrilous attack on the country’s commercial forestry sector in 2006. It accused the industry of taking part in human rights abuse, workplace violence and arms trafficking. Of the twenty or more direct accusations, none were substantiated with hard evidence. Most were without foundation.
CELCOR is now attempting to shut down a project that aims to assist smallholders develop plots of no more than 2 hectares. According to the project documents, smallholder palm farmers receive almost double PNG’s minimum wage.
The current action coincides with the Bank’s recent attempts to alter its approach to palm oil in poverty alleviation, which will create new and more onerous set of preconditions for financing and skew Bank lending and support away from its development mission. The new approach will restrict Bank lending to oil palm development and endorses the concept of restricting use of forest land for agricultural development.