First of all, it should be made clear that Socfin does not ‘grab’ land from villagers; we are offered land, or we ask for it, when exploratory surveys have demonstrated the economic, environmental and social feasibility of a plantation project.
In all our developments, population density is a key criterion. When this density is too high, the social impacts are so great that Socfin discontinues its prospecting activity or turns down the offer, as the case may be.
Socfin does not rent or buy land from villagers.
All land transactions are conducted with the State, which is the legal owner of the land. The land is usually occupied on the basis of annual land leases of 25 to 99 years depending on local laws. Full ownership is only acquired in exceptional cases.
However, we are well aware that although the land belongs to the State, it is used by the villagers, and that they have certain traditional rights which are not set down in writing.
We therefore usually offer villagers a choice of several different forms of compensation, depending on local circumstances: these may include financial compensation for the loss of land use or the loss of their existing plantations, in accordance with local laws; or relocation to another plot of land within the concession at our expense; or the villagers staying on their land and maintaining a living space there where they can continue to grow their traditional and subsistence crops.
In any case, the villagers always have a free choice, based on preliminary information that is complete and accurate.