The pursuit of palm oil profits by agribusinesses in Guatemala is fuelling a food crisis for the poor
The area of Guatemala given over to palm plantations to produce agrofuel increased by 146% between 2005 and 2010, according to estimates by the National Institute for Agrarian and Rural Studies in Guatemala City. This huge expansion has been largely unregulated.
Sabia, a local environmental group, believes palm planting is now taking place even more rapidly. “In some areas the government has only mapped about 10% of what’s being planted, it’s happening so fast,” says Magali Rey Rosa, the group’s co-ordinator. “These national and transnational palm companies are telling us they are going to overcome climate change by growing ‘oil’. But all it’s doing here is increasing levels of inequality and deepening violence. They pay workers poverty wages, contaminate the ground and water supply with agrochemicals, encroach on protected areas, and take land away from producing food for people here to eat,” she said.