In Cambodia today, hundreds of thousands of people are being alienated from their homes, farmlands, forests and fisheries as the country’s ruling elites and foreign investors plunder the country for private profit in the name of ‘development’. In rural areas, more than 2 million hectares – 12 percent of Cambodia’s total landmass – has been granted to private companies as concessions for the development of agro-industrial plantations.
Forest clearing, sand-dredging and large-scale seizure of productive land threaten the ecological balance and the livelihoods and food security of rural families. Dozens of rural and indigenous communities have been forcibly evicted and rendered homeless by land concessions in the last five years, while considerably more have faced economic displacement in the form of reduced access to farming and grazing land, and the destruction of forests that they have used for generations for collecting food and forest products. Despite legislative protections and constitutional and statutory recognition of rights, affected and at-risk families are unable to protect their rights or seek legal recourse because of the weak and corrupt state of legal institutions in Cambodia.
Sugarcane is the one of the leading ‘boom crops’ driving the Cambodian land-grabbing frenzy today. Over the last several years, there has been a rapid expansion in the Cambodian sugar industry, with at least 75,000 hectares in land concessions being granted to private companies for industrial sugarcane production. Rights observers have documented serious and widespread human rights abuses and environmental damage caused by these companies affecting more than 12,000 people.
The Clean Sugar Campaign is a coalition of affected communities and non-governmental organizations working to:
- Stop human rights abuses and environmental damage caused by the Cambodian sugar industry;
- Bring about a just resolution for the individuals and communities who have been harmed by the industry; and
- Ensure that the agricultural development and trade policies benefit smallholder farmers and local communities.