Bidco Africa has refuted claims of malpractices against farmers in East Africa, stating that those petitioning against the company’s good work are malicious.
Bidco chief executive Vimal Shah told its partners through letters, saying that there is a consistent attempt to portray the company as one that ‘has deserted its values and dulled its conscience.’
His sentiments followed a petition by Bugala Farmers’ Association asking the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to cut ties with the cooking oil firm. They pointed out the firm’s alleged tax evasion in Kenya and deforestation of land for its palm oil production in Uganda.
The group are against Business Call to Action (BCtA) hosted by UNDP. Bidco joined the call committing to create 60, 000 jobs across the region by 2019.
“The good work we do and continue to do across East Africa cannot be undone by malice and lies; we touch actual lives, invest in communities and make a positive difference where we operate,” said Mr Shah dismissing the allegations.
“We understand the obsession with the Palm Oil Project in Uganda. It’s massive investment that is improving livelihoods and bringing development to the society.”
Mr Shah claimed that already, 1,800 Ugandan farmers are registered by the Palm Oil Project and are earning from it. Also the firm said it is generating power and building roads.
Uganda’s ministry of agriculture and animal and industries has dismissed the allegations against Bidco stating that the project was conducted under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. The main aim was to address high poverty levels in the area.
“The project has developed 6,500 hectares of oil palm plantations under nucleus estates and 4,700 hectares under small holder farmers as out growers,” said a letter from the ministry, “ a total of 1,700 households are involved as outgrowers and they have tremendously benefitted from the project.”