(In) The way of development. Industrial sugar production and dispossession in Sre Ambel district, SW Cambodia.
McLinden Nuijen, M.L.
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Over the past decade, thousands of Cambodians have been dispossessed of their land through government-granted Economic Land Concessions (ELCs). Now motivated by a preferential trading scheme of the European Union called Everything but Arms, a major Thai sugar producer has partnered with a Taiwanese food company and a powerful Cambodian ruling party senator to export raw sugar from a joint ELC to Europe without tariffs and at a guaranteed minimum price. While the government promotes ELCs as benefiting the rural poor, dispossession can have negative direct and indirect implications upon the health, livelihoods, and social systems of communities who rely on their land to survive. This research examines what has happened to the rural households within Chi Kha and Trapaing Kandaol villages that lost their land in 2006 to the Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co. Ltd. in the Sre Ambel district of Koh Kong province. Through in-depth interviews, participatory methods and household surveys, the impacts on those affected will be appraised and impoverishment trends will be assessed. In addition, as development-induced dispossession is imbued with local to international power and politics, the formal and informal institutions meditating outcomes will be explored. The end result of the research efforts will contribute to an understanding of the international drivers of ELCs in Cambodia, including the European Union Sugar Regime reformation, as well as current rural development opportunities and risks. Together this will broaden the knowledge base of what factors influence the realization of sustainable, inclusive and equitable development in Cambodia.