About this project
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Research in Asia
25-day trip to Malaysia and Indonesia Laura Villadiego, freelance journalist covering Southeast Asia, will travel to the regions where the palm oil is spreading to analyze the social and environmental impacts. The budget includes transportation, accommodation and some other basic expenses.
RESEARCH IN LATIN AMERICA
25-day trip to Colombia. Nazaret Castro, correspondent in Latin America, will travel to the main regions where the oil palm is being cultivated, such as el Chocó y Los Llanos in Colombia.
Production expenses and commissions
Pre-production expenses (books, phone bills), production (onsite materials) and post-production (interview transcr). Commissions and fees (Goteo, Paypal, bank commissions).
RESEARCH IN AFRICA
12-day trip to Cameroon. Aurora Moreno, journalist specialized in Africa, will travel to Cameroon to report on what is happening in that country with the palm oil industry
Additional coverage in Asia
If we reach the optimum, Laura will also travel to Myanmar, where she will stay between 10 and 15 days to document the expansion of the oil palm in the south of the country.
Additional coverage in Latin America
If we reach the optimum, Nazaret will travel in a 12-day trip to Brazil, where the palm oil is spreading at the cost of the Amazon rainforest.
|Total||€ 7.500||€ 12.000|
One in every two: Palm oil in your daily life
We barely see it and we barely hear of it. Nevertheless, palm oil exists in almost half of all supermarket products: from chocolates to soap, candles and cosmetics. This product is also currently booming as it is used in biofuels.
Palm oil plantations have slowly but surely colonized certain countries. Indonesia and Malaysia are the biggest producers but its production is now rapidly increasing in Latin America and some countries in Africa too. While the advocates of this oil insist that palm leads to the economic growth, its critics maintain that this monoculture is devastating the fertility of the soil and the survival of millions of displaced farmers.
We intend to travel to the biggest producers in order to understand the impact of palm oil cultivation on those areas. Our aim is to publish a series of in-depth feature articles in which we analyze the multiple aspects of this controversial oil: land grabbing, environmental consequences, displacement of locals, health etc. These stories will be published on the Carro de Combate website and another media that will collaborate with the project.
Description of the project. Main features, strengths and differentials.
The main objective of Carro de Combate is to bring to light the social and environmental impacts of the products we consume, which are often kept hidden by big corporations and the disinterest of mainstream media. After documenting the origin of 30 products, Carro de Combate is now embarking on an in-depth investigation into the rapidly growing monoculture of palm oil.
The production of palm oil has many factors but our research will focus on the following:
Monoculture vs. Diversity: Palm oil has been developed under the monoculture model, with large plantations that have had significant social and environmental impacts.
The debate on biofuels: Biofuels have been another major factor in the growth of palm oil. Considered as a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, biofuels have often led to deforestation of tropical forests in countries like Indonesia and Brazil.
What development model: Advocates of palm oil maintain that plantations have played a vital role in rescuing millions of people from poverty. We want to analyze the development model that has been generated around the plantations and who are the main beneficiaries.
Is palm oil sustainable? After years of pressure from environmental organizations, the Roundtable on Palm Oil in 2004 launched an initiative to improve the production of this oil. It had many advocates as well as many critics. We will seek to talk with everybody to discuss whether this certification meets the criteria necessary to be considered sustainable and ethical.
What do we consumers do with palm oil? We are not all aware of this but we consume palm oil every day. What impact does it have on our health? Why do we know so little about palm oil? In our investigation, we will seek answers to these and other questions.
From family-run plantations to large business conglomerates: The production of palm oil is controlled by large conglomerates, but at the end of the chain are also millions of families with small plantations supplying the bigger ones. What impact does one have on the other? What negotiation position does each one have? How does all of this impact the price of palm oil?
Why this is important
Motivation and who the project is aimed at
Our main motivation is to provide accurate data for those who want to consume responsibly but have, until now, been denied access to the right information. Palm oil is extensively used by the food industry, but only since the recent implementation of a European law manufacturers are now required to state exactly what type of oil they use rather than the vague ‘vegetable oil’ written on labels today.
Therefore, as well as analyzing the impact on ecosystems which the ever-expanding and unregulated palm oil industry is having on the Third World, we want to investigate the health impacts of the consumption of an ingredient increasingly used in the production of processed foods.
Do we really know what we are eating? Can we imagine the trail of impacts caused by consuming products of a multinational corporation instead of cooking with fresh vegetables from a local producer?
Goals of the crowdfunding campaign
Carro de Combate has been investigating this trail since 2012 thanks to donations from the public (see www.carrodecombate.com), yet these contributions serve merely to cover the basic maintenance costs of the project. This time, we want to travel to the places of origin in order to document the impacts of this product.
To document every aspect of palm oil’s impact, we will travel to its biggest producers in Asia (Malaysia and Indonesia), Latin America (Colombia and Ecuador) and West Africa (Cameroon). These are some of the places where palm oil production is expanding at a rapid rate, with harsh effects on the local population and the environment.
With this campaign, we hope to raise an amount which will allow us to make these trips and guarantee the viability of this project. Our promise is to amplify the coverage and improve the project in all aspects (e.g. create a more complete eBook with multimedia coverage) if we reach a figure higher than the minimum proposed.
Team and experience
Carro de Combate is a journalistic project which investigates the origins of products and the working conditions in which they are produced in order to make visible the social and environmental impacts of the goods that we consume and investigate alternatives. The project began in 2012 and, since then, runs a blog (www.carrodecombate.com) and has published two books: Amarga Dulzura (Bitter Sweetness) where the production of the sugar industry is investigated. This was then followed by Consumir es un acto político (consumption is a political act), in which the production process of 20 everyday consumer products are analyzed.
For Southeast Asia, we will depend on Laura Villadiego who has worked for the likes of Agencia EFE and Al Jazeera.
Nazaret Castro, a contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique and former correspondent to Brazilian daily newspaper Público, will be in charge of all matters in Latin America.
Coverage in Africa will be carried out by Aurora Moreno, who is the creator of the blog ‘Por fin en África’ (porfinenafrica.com) and winner of the Premio Bitácoras 2012.
María Rubiños, a journalist who specializes on transparency issues, will provide logistical support from Madrid throughout each phase of the project.
*Image by Borja Sánchez Trillo
** This text has been translated thanks to the help of Andreas Vou (editor of I Am Awake www.iamawake.co) and Silvia Pinal.