Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are guilty of judging a palm oil project in Uganda on innuendo rather than its merits, the United Nations poverty agency supporting the controversial scheme said, as the project starts to bear fruit for smallholder farmers.
Local civil society groups, however, are standing by a report they commissioned last year accusing a private-public partnership on Uganda's Bugala Island on Lake Victoria of a series of environmental and social misdemeanours.
The palm oil industry has long been under fire for, among other things, its contribution to deforestation and the destruction of endangered animals' habitats in Asia.
The U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) says this is behind what it considers an unfounded wave of hostility that the project it helped launch with a 10 million dollar loan has met since the first plantations were set up in 2003.
"There's been a knee-jerk reaction ...