Halcyon Agri said on Monday that it was launching a sustainable natural rubber supply chain policy (SNRSCP), which is meant to apply to the company and other stakeholders it trades with, and that it was setting up a Sustainability Commission to monitor the policy in Cameroon.
The Sustainability Commission will be set up by its subsidiary, Corrie MacColl, to monitor the SNRSCP there and to ensure the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) recommendations for Sudcam are “effectively developed and implemented,” it said in a filing to SGX on Monday.
“As the world’s largest supplier of natural rubber and the owner of large plantation concessions, Halcyon understands its role and obligation to minimise impact on the environment while continuing to meet the growing demand for a raw material vital to modern life,” it said.
The SNRSCP aims to address seven areas: working conditions and living environment, responsible land acquisition and use, ecosystem protection, ethics and transparency, good agricultural practices and yield improvement, traceability of the supply chain and policy compliance.
The company invited WWF to visit the Sudcam plantation in Cameroon in August, it said.
WWF said in a summary report released by Halcyon Agri on Monday that the trip wasn’t an audit, but that the environmental group had provided some initial recommendations on steps toward zero deforestation rubber. WWF noted that local communities it visited said relations with Sudcam had improved since Halcyon Agri assumed ownership.
That was tension the company also cited.
“Halcyon acknowledges there are legacy issues prior to our acquisition of Sudcam, particularly regarding access to land, limited space for local farming activities and a concrete environmental management plan. Halcyon is working on next steps based on the recommendations of WWF,” the rubber producer said.
Halcyon acquired Cameroon Holdings, which owns 80 percent of Sudcam, in 2016, while a Cameroonian investment firm holds the remaining 20 percent, it has previously said.
The Sustainability Commission will include multiple stakeholder groups throughout the natural rubber value chain and it will have “explicit authority” to investigate matters under its purview, it said, adding that it will be chaired by a stakeholder who is not a group employee.
It also issued a pledge that may have been aimed at previous allegations of deforestation.
“Halcyon is committed to achieving zero-net deforestation in all its plantations and will implement an integrated landscape management approach in consultation with key environmental and social civil society organisations,” the company said.
In July, Greenpeace published a report, titled “Halcyon Agri’s Ruinous Rubber,” which said that Halcyon Agri and its subsidiary Sudcam operate a “sordid” plantation business which threatened the ecosystem and local communities in in the south of Cameroon. The report noted that a forest belt of only 100 to 200 meters separated the plantation from the Dja wildlife reserve. Sudcam cleared more than 10,000 hectares of tropical rainforest over the 2011 to 2018 period, the report said.
In response, Halcyon Agri said in early August that Sudcam was in full compliance with the Cameroon government’s legal framework. It added that it didn’t log any forests, with those activities carried out by entities unrelated to Sudcam or Halcyon Agri, with its development activity beginning with clearing and subsequent rehabilitation of logged areas.