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Roundtable discussion on land market in Bangladesh

We are sharing this news posted by “The Daily Star” on 27 January.

Participants of the roundtable discussion, "Rural Land Market in Bangladesh: A Situation Analysis." Photo retrieved from http://www.thedailystar.net/upload/gallery/image/arts/roundtable-on-rural-land-market.jpg

Participants of the roundtable discussion, “Rural Land Market in Bangladesh: A Situation Analysis.” Photo retrieved from http://www.thedailystar.net/upload/gallery/image/arts/roundtable-on-rural-land-market.jpg

Mr Shamsul Huda of the Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) participated in a roundtable discussion on Rural Land Market in Bangladesh: A Situation Analysis on 3 December 2014 at the Daily Star Centre. Jointly organized by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), Uttaran, and CARE Bangladesh with financial support from European Union (EU), the event served as a venue for sharing the preliminary findings of a survey on the exploration of land market in Bangladesh.

Under the EU’s Access to Land Programme, Prof. Abul Barkat led the survey together with the Human Development Resources Centre (HDRC).

Findings reveal that 58.55% of the households are landless in Bangladesh, 48.37% of which are rural households.

Moreover, in the concept of a typical rural land market, lands are transferred through ‘sales market’ (selling and buying activities) or ‘rental market’ (lease-in and lease-out practices). However, land grabbing and land acquisition now become part of the story. Results showed that land loss is more attributed to land grabbing and land acquisition. From the reported 32.1% households who lost their lands, 18.9% were due to land grabbing and 13.2% were due to land acquisition.

Issue on land governance was also raised. According to the discussants, the two types of policy flaws in the country are: (i) existing policy/processes are not pro-poor and (ii) the country lacks any functional land use policy. To address this, participants agreed that digital land record and survey would contribute to better land governance and will be an immediate first step to comprehensive land policy.

As for the land market issue, the concept of ‘land bank’ and ‘optimum use of land’ were explored during the roundtable discussion.

STAR Kampuchea Holds Discussion on Land Grabbing in Koh Kong Province and Results of Land Monitoring

On 27 March, STAR Kampuchea (SK) organized a half-day roundtable discussion on land reform monitoring and a land grab case on A Resettlement by an Economic Land Concession (ELC) in Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts, Koh Kong Province. This activity aims to validate the results of SK’s research, gathering feedback from groups working on land, and submit the recommendations from the land grab study to government and other stakeholders in order to strengthen national policies on agricultural investments that promote national food security and protect the rights of small- scale food producers and local communities. [MORE]

Discussions took place among 20 participants from national and international NGOs, World Bank, ILC partners, and NES-Cambodia partners, who have years of experience in land issues in Cambodia. They were actively engaged in the discussions and provided useful comments and recommendations.

Suggestions on the CSO land reform monitoring report focused on data verification with state institutions and NGOs, and citation of sources. Regarding the land grab study, participants gave recommendations for government, related institutions, UDG, Co. Ltd., in four key areas:

Strengthening land local governance

– Create new, fair and independent commissions, whose members shall be composed of the concerned competent institutions, local authorities, and the representatives of the reallocated people in order to ensure that the affected and relocated people are paid in fair and just manner.

– Allow the affected people and the concerned local authorities to participate in all steps of land concession granting

– Create clear technical tools in order to measure and control the quality of all newly-built wooden houses for the reallocated people.

Ensuring food security

– Create and conserve outside development areas with fertile agricultural land and fishery areas together with accessible irrigation systems where the allocated people can do agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods

– Provide rice and monetary subsidy for agricultural and fishing activities and emergency food support (Humanitarian support)to the affected and allocated people

–  Improve capacity of the affected, allocated people with processing and research marketing skills, which is a means for them to produce and sell products to improve their livelihoods.

Protection of food producers and community rights

– Provide residential and agricultural land titles to the reallocated people and develop infrastructure before the company moves them according to the Leopard Policy, which in case any overlapping area between the land of affected people and the company,  land shall be cut from the development area and belong to the affected people.

– Encourage and promote local communities to produce food products by providing them the life skills and food processing skills which respond to the industrial demands or local consumers in the long time

Facilitating innovative production arrangements

– Should provide facilitations and access to their residential and agricultural land for their farming and fishing when they are not ready to move out

– Build linkages with the other private sectors so the affected and allocated people can have access to the markets for their products and provide them opportunities to get jobs from the investing companies

– Provide long-term scholarships and vocational skills to youth, women, disable people, and children who are affected by the concessions

– Arrange suitable and appropriate public services each as:

  • Developing and restoring the drinking water, irrigation system and special zonesfor the affected and allocated people to do agriculture and fishing
  • Developing  infrastructure to connect with community’s road systems
  • Building more schools and provide sufficient teachers
  • Establishing healthcare centers and toilets according to the national standards(nurses, medicines, health-care staffs,  and appropriate materials and equipment)

Moving forward

After revising the reports, STAR Kampuchea will send the summarized recommendations of the land grab case to the Ministry of Forestry and Fishery (MoFF), which is responsible for compliance on Economic Land Concessions (ELC) and the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization, and Construction (MLMUC), which is responsible for Social Land Concessions (SLC), the National Assembly, and other relevant institutions.

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The presentations are available for download (in PDF form):

“Bittersweet blood sugar” – Sugarcane plantation in Cambodia accused of land grabbing by farmers

This is a story brief on the sugarcane plantation (Cambodia) case presented at the Asian People’s Land Rights Tribunal held at the University of the Philippines last 16-17 January 2014.

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More than 500 families of farmers and indigenous people, forcibly evicted from their land in the provinces of Koh Kong and Kampong Speu in Cambodia to make way for sugarcane plantation, presented their case in the Asian People’s Land Rights Tribunal held on January 16-17, 2014 in University of the Philippines.

 

Ly Yong Phat, a billionaire Cambodian Senator and his wife, Kim Heang, were awarded Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) for more than 23,000 hectares used for sugarcane plantation in Kampong Speu in 2010 and 2011. Earlier, on August 2, 2006, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries (MAFF) granted two ELCs good for 90 years to Thai and Taiwanese companies and Ly Yong Phat as local conduit in Cambodia for 19,100 hectares of sugarcane plantation in Butom Sakor and Sre Ambel in the Province of Koh Kong.

 

The sugar they produce were sent for export to the United Kingdom, to Tate & Lyle which is one of the two major suppliers of sugar of Coca Cola and PepsiCo.

 

The ELCs in Koh Kong were awarded to Koh Kong Plantation Co Ltd. (KKPC), and Koh Kong Sugar Co. Ltd. (KKSI).  Khon Kaen Sugar Industry Limited (KSL), a Thai company holds 50% of the shares in these companies; Taiwanese company Ve Wong Corporation with 30%; and the remaining shares are being held by the Cambodian Senator.

 

On May 19, 2006, bulldozers accompanied by the Cambodian government’s Armed Forces began to clear the land to make way for the land concession projects. 456 families were forcibly evicted, left homeless and landless. Majority of them faced hunger due to loss of decent and sustainable income opportunities. Some had no choice but to abandon their families and migrate, albeit illegally, to Thailand. The adverse impact of eviction took its toll on the children’s living condition and their access to education with some reported to have acquired physical and mental trauma. Worse, child labor cases were documented in the sugar plantation.

 

The rural communities with the help of the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) filed civil and criminal cases before the Cambodian Provincial Courts in 2007. They appealed for the cancellation of the ELCs, citing violations to the 2001 Land Law, as well as theft and wrongful damage to property, battery with injury, fraud, arson, and infringement of lawful possession. The criminal cases were dismissed in 2012 and the civil case was referred to Cadastral Commission.

 

In March 2013, 200 families from Sre  Ambel  filed a lawsuit in the UK court against Tate and Lyle Sugars and Tate and Lyle Plc, accusing the company of sourcing sugar from lands that are illegally acquired.  They sought damages equivalent to the value of sugar produced on the land stolen from them. In July 2013, the UK High Court facilitated a mediation hearing between parties but failed to come to an agreement.

 

The affected families also filed complaints with the grievance mechanism of Bonsucro, an industry initiative seeking to mitigate social and environmental impacts of sugar production. To date, nearly 3M tons of sugar or 2% of total production have been Bonsucro-certified Tate & Lyle Sugars, formerly a member of the initiative, was suspended by the Bonsucro board on 8 July 2013 for failing to demonstrate “adequate progress within a reasonable time-scale towards meeting the requirements of the Board to provide information regarding a complaint made against the company [related to the Sre Ambel case], nor adequately explaining why these requirements could not be met.” #

Complaint of the Mamanwa Indigenous People against Mindoro Resources Limited Mining Exploration, Agusan Del Norte

This is a story brief on the Mamanwa (Philippines) case presented at the Asian People’s Land Rights Tribunal held at the University of the Philippines last 16-17 January 2014.

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The Mamanwa indigenous people in Sitio Dinarawan and Barangay Bunga in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte oppose the nickel, gold and copper-gold exploration of the Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL). The Exploration Permit (EP) has expired on November 4, 2012. However, the people are alarmed that mining operations may resume that is feared to threaten Lake Mainit that was declared a key biodiversity area.

The Mamanwas said Lake Mainit is sacred to them and the ancestral domain is their most valuable resource handed down to them by their forefathers. Its destruction is grave violation of their customary laws, culture and traditions. They have been living and dependent on the lake for livelihood even prior to the creation of the Republic of the Philippines. They asserted that under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (RA 8371), they have the right to use and protect their ancestral domain.

In a resolution passed by the Dinarawan Indigenous Peoples Organization (DIPO) on July 23, 2008, the Mamanwa community opposed the entry of MRL in Sitio Dinarawan. They expressed this in the consultation conducted by MRL in July 2008. The same position was submitted to the Office of the President, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the same year.

The Mamanwa indigenous group composed of 67 households has pending ancestral domain claim since October 2008 with the NCIP on the 8,000- hectare terrestrial and lakeshore areas, including a portion of Lake Mainit which is the fourth largest lake in the Philippines.

The MRL’s C$15M exploration project which seeks to define a world class nickel deposit suitable for large scale mining started in 1997.  Its first tenement for mining exploration covers the Agata Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) site, the company’s principal nickel laterite resource, close to Santiago, Agusan del Norte. 

At the time of application, the area was divided in five parcels. The communities of Dinarawan and Bunga are located north of the Agata MPSA, in the Municipality of Jabonga, Agusan del Norte and their concerns relate to areas covered by the Tapian Extension tenement.

In July 2002, the company applied for an additional Exploration Permit that covered several areas north of the Agata MPSA and west of Lake Mainit, which was named the Tapian Extension.  Its EP for the Tapian Extension was issued in November 2010 by the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB).

On September 16, 2011, the Mamanwa tribe in Sitio Dinarawan filed a formal complaint before the Compliance Adviser/Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation, one of MRL’s major shareholders, equivalent to 9% of MRL’s total equity. CAO is an independent redress mechanism that is mandated to address complaints from people affected by IFC supported projects.

The complaint was caused by the entry of MRL’s employees in the sacred grounds of Mamanwa’s ancestral domain without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The indigenous group cited this as violations of Sections 10, 16 and 59 of the Indigenous People’s Right Act (IPRA). The law states that the indigenous people have the right to be informed in any projects/programs or activities that will be done within the ancestral domain, and to participate in any decision that will take place within the ancestral domain territory.

They asserted that consultations should have been conducted prior to MRL operations.  Where consultations did take place, the negative impacts of the project were not explained thoroughly.

The Mamanwa community lamented that the MRL exerted undue pressure and influence on community leaders, attempted to create parallel leadership structures, used LGU representatives to pressure the communities, and used of illegitimate signatures to demonstrate community consent, among others. This caused deep division in the tribal community and even familial relations. This resulted to some of their community members defying the decision of tribal chieftains and community elders, a grave violation of their customs and tradition.

The indigenous people community criticized the 2010 Summary of Public Information and the Environmental and Social Review Summary of IFC that stated no IP community is physically or economically displaced or otherwise directly affected by the exploration activities or by land access. The report further said the Manobo and Mamanwa are physically distinct but no longer practicing their old customs and traditional religion.

Engaging the CAO mediation mechanism has worn down the Mamanwa community and found the process not going to their favor with their demands seemingly falling on deaf ears.

In October 2012, CAO issued its Appraisal Report holding that the conduct of a compliance audit is unlikely at present.  CAO acknowledges that extractive industry projects, even at the exploration stage, can have significant social impacts on indigenous communities, particularly when sites of religious or cultural importance are involved.  However, the immediate risk of adverse outcomes to the complainants was mitigated by MRL’s decision to suspend exploration in the contested area. #

Farmers’ economic potential blocked by land grabbing in Asean

Notwithstanding the involvement of political families and personalities, and powerful financial institutions and big companies in the cases presented in the tribunal, the interest of rural communities who are the primary stakeholders of the land should be upheld.

Land Acquisition Dynamics in Nepal: Actors, Processes, and Effects

We are sharing with you the work of our friends from the Consortium for Land Research and Policy Dialogue (COLARP). This policy brief discusses domestic land acquisition – land grabbing – in Nepal. 

ANGOC/LWA: Ongoing Initiatives

LWA seeks to contribute to the empowerment of Asian rural communities through increased access to land – through a platform promoting consensus-building and advocacy among an active constituency sharing the same understanding on land issues. ANGOC is coordinating these country studies and initiatives in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Case studies on land grabbing

As private sector land investments increase in Asia, the question of who benefits from the purchase or lease of large tracts of land – also called land grabbing – becomes critical. Investments not only pose threats to prime agricultural lands, converting them into plantations and socio-economic development zones, but they undermine communities’ land rights. LWA partners are documenting specific land grabbing cases.

Scoping studies on women

The importance of women’s access to and control over land and other natural resources is essential in ensuring food security and reducing poverty. As yet, many gaps and issues remain in upholding women’s rights to land. The scoping studies are being conducted to assess the laws and policies, as well as actors, which influence women’s land rights, and define strategic areas to enhance advocacy to enhance women’s access to and ownership of land.

Scoping studies on indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples are recognized for their role in food security, through resource conservation and the continued use of traditional knowledge systems. However, they face many challenges, especially with regard to land and resource rights. Many are at risk of dispossession of their ancestral lands. The scoping studies (per country) will assess the legal and policy environment affecting IP land rights and efforts of various actors in addressing IP land and resource issues; and develop recommendations for policy advocacy for IPs’ land rights.

CSO land reform monitoring

The LWA campaign has developed a framework for monitoring land reforms in various Asian countries, using indicators on land tenure and access to land, as well as policies and budgets. This framework was piloted in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India (select states), Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines. The second phase of land reform monitoring – continuing monitoring activities – is now underway in those seven countries. Read more about the  CSO land reform monitoring initiative.

These initiatives are being spearheaded by the following organizations:

For any questions, please contact Catherine Liamzon (ccliamzon@angoc.org).

‘Land rush towards Asia should be regulated’

The land rush towards Asia by rich nations wishing to secure their food needs should be regulated as the trend threatens to reverse agrarian reform gains and  leave communities and resources in the host countries vulnerable to exploitation, said a land reform advocate.

In a paper, Antonio B. Quizon, chairperson of the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Angoc), said governments must develop clear policies on the new wave of land deals from rich countries as these have implications not only on their people’s needs and rights but also food security and the environment.

“It is imperative for citizens to exact transparency and accountability from their government, ensuring the state regulation of foreign investments. The effect should be maximum benefits for the citizens – people’s needs and rights prioritized and protected,” he said.

“Governments must develop clear policies on foreign land investment that engage the overriding interests of the country’ – from food security to environmental sustainability of land and natural resources,” he said in the paper published in Lok Niti, Angoc’s journal. The paper was based on a regional workshop held last year in Bangkok on public- private partnerships for land investments.

Quizon said the trend threatens gains in land reform because the new land deals will increase the concentration of land ownership and access in favor of the foreign investors. “Greater land competition also increases land values, thereby leaving the rural poor outside of land markets,” he said.

He said the new wave of land acquisitions, which had been labeled the “new colonialism” and the “international land grab”, has been driven by rising world food prices that started in the 1990s and peaked in 2006-2008. To secure their food needs these wealthy nations scour for farmlands overseas for the large-scale production of food,  livestock and other products which will feed their citizens.

Another driver for the land rush is the growth of the biofuel industry which has shifted land use from food to biofuel crops, Quizon said.

In Asia, the land rush has been led by rich countries from the Middle East and East Asia, he said. He cited another study which said that as of end-2008, China, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Saudi Arabia controlled over 7.6 million cultivable hectares overseas.

Quizon said host or target governments welcome the investments into the agriculture sector unmindful the trend could compromise long-term food security.

He blamed the “hunger of global capital” for the land rush as it “commodified” everything – land and water, plants and genes, and even “clean air” in the form of “carbon emission quotas”. “This commodification of land fuels the rush for the world’s farmlands,” he said. Read the rest of this entry

Indonesia’s mega food estate may ‘undo’ Marind tribe

INDONESIA: A massive food estate, envisioned to boost Indonesia’s food production, might be the “undoing” of a tribe in  West Papua, the easternmost island under the country’s control, an NGO warned.

In a paper, Sawit Watch,  (Oil Palm Watch) said  the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) poses a threat to the Marind tribe.

Members of the Marind tribe obtain  almost 97% of their needs from forests, swamps, rivers and the sea, the NGO said in the paper  published in Lok Niti, the journal of the Asian NGO Coalition.

“Thus, when all customary forests of the Marind are converted for business interests, it is not so hard to imagine that this will be the undoing of the tribe,” Sawit Watch said.

“The MIFEE mega project will only worsen the situation of IPs who own the customary right, as has happened to the Marind Mbiyan and the Yeinan in District Muting, as well as the Ulilin and Elikobel tribes who faced the same dilemma,” said the NGO, which has been documenting the expansion of palm oil plantations in the country since 2000. Read the rest of this entry