Community struggles against oil palm company Feronia-PHC in the DR Congo

In 2009, the global food corporation Unilever sold its palm oil subsidiary Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC), in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to the Canadian company Feronia.

European Development Banks provided over US$ 100 million in funding to Feronia and its Congolese subsidiary PHC since 2013, claiming that the money will support development and secure jobs. The development bank funding has done neither, as reports and statements from community organisations and national and international organisations supporting the communities’ struggle to reclaim their land demonstrate. On the contrary, conflicts have escalated since the development banks became involved, the company’s security guards have been implicated in brutal beatings, killings of young men from villages and violence and abuse against women.

Feronia went bankrupt in 2020, and development banks agreed to hand over PHC to an obscure company called Straight KKM. Since the new owner took over, two people have been brutally killed amidst community reports of escalating violence perpetrated by the company’s security guards.

In 2018, communities have filed a complaint with development banks, requesting a mediation. The mediation has yet to start off, while the violence and killings continue as European development banks remain shamefully indifferent to the violence and killings on the plantations they continue to finance.

The publications below expose the colonial history behind these oil palm plantations as well as the violence that continues to this day. The community statements are testament to the struggle for justice that communities affected by this land grab dating back to colonial Belgian rule have been mounting ever since the land was violently taken from them more than 110 years ago. A complete repository of articles, reports, statements and audio-visual media reports on the community struggle against Feronia’s occupation of their ancestral land is available at: https://www.farmlandgrab.org/cat/show/511

Action alerts 24 February 2023
Four years ago, nine communities from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) filed a complaint with the Independent Complaints Mechanism (ICM) of three European development banks financing the oil palm plantation company Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC). The complainants were seeking a resolution to a long-standing land conflict with the company and the ICM agreed to proceed with a mediation process.
Other information 16 January 2023
In September 2022, two large contingents of national police and military were dispatched to oil palm plantation concession areas of the Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC) in Lokutu and Boteka.
Bulletin articles 23 March 2022
Many oil palm plantations’ concessions in West and Central Africa were built on lands stolen from communities during colonial occupations. This is the case in the DRC, where food company Unilever began its palm oil empire. Today, these plantations are still sites of on-going poverty and violence. It is time to end the colonial model of concessions and return the land to its original owners.
Action alerts 11 January 2022
(Only available in French) Polices et militaires tirent à balles réelles sur des ouvriers de la Société FERONIA/PHC en grève à la plantation de Boteka.
Action alerts 10 March 2021
A young man was killed and other people are still in prison. It was after a protest against the failure of the PHC company to provide local communities with any benefits after 100 years of illegally occupying their land.
Bulletin articles 9 March 2021
Communities in West and Central Africa are facing the impacts of industrial oil palm plantations. With the false promise of bringing ‘development’, corporations, backed up with government support, have been granted millions of hectares of land for this expansion.
Action alerts 18 February 2021
RIAO-RDC and international NGOs calls for the immediate release of community leaders and villagers from the communities of Mwingi, Bolesa and Yanongo who were arrested after a peaceful protest against the palm oil company PHC. An urgent action alert is open to sign-ons.
Publications 5 February 2021
The report details abuses faced by communities affected by industrial oil palm plantations managed by the Congolese company Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC).
Bulletin articles 17 November 2020
European development banks have financed a plantation company in DRC that is built on injustice and violence dating back to a colonial-era land grab. When the company went bankrupt in 2020, the banks chose to uphold the plantation model.