A Sour Side to the Sugar Industry?

By Aliza Kempner

Across Cambodia, newly minted sugar plantations have generated thousands of jobs for destitute migrant workers and subsistence farmers as well as hundreds of jobs for skilled factory workers. Still, there is reason to believe that international trade pacts fostering exports of products like sugar that seek to help the world’s poorest countries can have the unintended effect of encouraging land grabs by wealthy, politically connected families. Cambodian corporations obtained tens of thousands of acres from the government as economic development concessions for large sugar plantations, while paying modest compensation to families pushed off the land. 

The New York Times paints an interesting picture of the facts on the ground and explains the genesis of the conflicts