Coke's zero tolerance for land grabs proves difficult to fulfil - TRFN
* Land experts say Coke must work harder to check its suppliers
* Coke agrees it's "hard going" but stays committed
* Track record in Guatemala and Cambodia criticised
By Stella Dawson
WASHINGTON, March 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Coca-Cola Co has made a good start in axing land grabs from its supply chain, but it must work harder in proving that its bottlers and sugar suppliers do not violate land rights, development experts told the company.
Coke declared two years ago that land grabbing is unacceptable, and as a major buyer of sugar pledged to help protect land rights of local communities, including evaluating its top 16 cane sugar-sourcing countries by 2020.
In the first of those reports released earlier this month, Coke said it found no evidence of land rights abuses by five sugar mills it buys from in Guatemala.
However, those findings raised questions at a World Bank conference on Land and Poverty, given Guatemala's long and often violent history of land conflict and human rights abuses.
Karol Boudreaux, land expert at the Cloudburst Group consulting firm, said the report was too superficial, relying on the word of sugar mill operators without digging deeply into their land acquisition methods. Continuación...