Author: Marvin Montefrio, Wolfram Dressler
Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Philippine Statistics Authority.
Rapidly expanding oil palm plantations threaten indigenous lands and food security in Palawan, the Philippines’ last ecological frontier.
At last count, at least 9,000 hectares of land have been cleared, claimed and planted to oil palm in southern Palawan, the justification being that the oil from the plantations and labor opportunities offer “inclusive,” “sustainable” and “green” development opportunities. Research by the Coalition Against Land Grabbing and its NGO partners point to major renewed interest in ramping up the financial and capital investments in oil palm expansion in both Palawan and Mindanao (https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/petitions/1089/we-need-our-land-not-oil-palms).
In a forthcoming paper in the international journal Development and Change, we show that the customary food security of the indigenous Pala’wan is being threatened by interrelated dynamics:
As oil palm expands into lower sections of upland areas, plantations claim and destroy indigenous swidden farms (uma) that feed families.
Paralleling the forest plunder in Indonesia and Malaysia, oil palm expansion in Palawan is unfolding at an alarming rate and with devastating consequences: Oil palm is destroying Palawan’s forests, encroaching on ancestral domains and, increasingly, threatening the indigenous peoples’ food security.