Palm Oil Monoculture in the Choco, Colombia

Palm oil monoculture growing on the lands of the people evicted between 1996 and 1997. Afro and indigenous communities living in the area are strongly opposed to these monocultures.


Over the last 5 years in Colombias Choco, a region extremely rich in biodiversity and multiculturalism, oil palm monocultures have been championed in line with the global politics surrounding the production and trade of agro-fuels. Afro and indigenous communities living in the area, particularly the Curvarado and Jiguamiando river basins, are strongly opposed to these monocultures. They have suffered violent invasion of their territories, evictions, threats and killings that have caused a profound change in their traditional means of subsistence. In addition, the establishment of monocultures has led to serious environmental problems, destroying areas with wide biodiversity, contaminating water, polluting soil so that a process of severe desertification is starting.

Basic Data
NamePalm Oil Monoculture in the Choco, Colombia
SiteCurvarado and Jiguarniando
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific CommoditiesLand
Palm oil
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsHectares are planted with oil palm plantations and 105 lots have been acquired in an area of 5654 hectares.
Project Area (in hectares)25000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date06/2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesUrapalma S.A from Colombia
Palmas SA from Colombia
Promotora Palmera de Curvarado from Colombia
Palmas de Curvarado from Colombia
Inversiones Fregni Ocho from Colombia
La Tukeka from Colombia
Selva Humeda from Colombia
Asibicon from Colombia
Palmas del Atrato from Colombia
Relevant government actorsColombian State Council, Environment Ministry, Permanent Peoples Tribunal, Fiscalia
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersONIC - Colombia, Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities of the Cacarica River Basin - Colombia, CAVIDA - Colombia, World Movement for Tropical Forests, Inter-eclesiastical Commission of Justice and Peace - Colombia, SINALTRAINAL - Colombia, Conondo Resguardo Tami Community, Community of Paimad, Villaconto and El Canton de San Pablo - Colombia, OREWA - Colombia, COCOMACIA - Colombia, Omal Observatory on Multinationals in Latin America, Semillas Group, Human Rights Everywhere, Quibd Diocese, Cenipalma - Research Centre for oil palm, Corpoica - Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Malnutrition, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Development of AlternativesThey want their land back and in conditions for living there. In 2012 the goverment is still doing a third census of displaced peoples from Curvarad y Jiguamiand.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Although there has been resistance and several favourable court decisions against the the illegitimate tree plantations and the degradation of the land, the Chocos Afro-Descendente communities that were displaced still do not have a place to live, since the land where their homes were are occupied by the Oil Palm plantations.
Sources and Materials

Law 693/2001

Biodiversity Agenda for 2007

Colombian Constitution

Law 70 in 1993 for the recognition of communal lands of ethnic groups


Que trae el ALCA? Debate urgente para el pueblo afrocolombiano. CINEP, 2004

Accion colectiva. Estado y etnicidad en el pacifico colombiano. Mauricio Pardo, 2001
[click to view]

Palma aceitera, de la cosmetica al biodiesel. La colonizacion continua. Movimiento por los bosques, 2006
[click to view]

Encendiendo el debate sobre biocombistibles. Elizabeth Bravo. 2007
[click to view]

Problemática ambiental y rural Misión internacional de verificación sobre la situación ocasionada por los agrocombustibles en Colombia: Palma aceitera y caña de azúcar, Revista Semilla No 40/41, 12/03/2009
[click to view]


El dossier de los palmeros, El Espectador, 21/05/2010
[click to view]

La palma Africana en Colombia, Ecologista en Accion, June 2005
[click to view]

Monocultivo de palma africana en el Chocó, Colombia, 3/08/2015
[click to view]

Media Links

Video documentary: CONTRAVÍA: Cultivos de palma en Chocó, tierras y desplazamiento
[click to view]

Other Documents

Palm oil plantation in Choco, David Campuzano
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorLucie Greyl
Last update04/01/2016