Issue 1/2016: Olam Palm Gabon sets benchmark for sustainable, large-scale palm plantation in Africa
Palm is the world’s largest and fastest growing vegetable oil and has multiple end uses. Predominantly produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, growth in palm production has effectively been capped by the limited land and inadequate supply of labour as well as being hampered by land title, social and environmental issues. Africa is playing an increasing role in the palm oil sector as the industry there ramps up production to cater to growing global demand.
Within Africa, Gabon stands out as a highly cost competitive producer of palm given its soil, agro-climatic conditions and strong governance framework. Olam’s oil palm development project in the country has already become Africa’s flagship oil palm project. Successful planting of new areas by Olam in Gabon accounts for more than 50% of the continent’s new palm acreage in the past two years.
In this first issue of Olam Insights for 2016, we ask our Palm team to share what has and is being done to establish Olam as the foremost upstream operator of sustainable, large-scale palm plantation in Africa.
Oil palm production: the case for Africa and Gabon
Ranveer S. Chauhan, Managing Director & CEO, Palm and Rubber
Africa is now recognised by discerning and knowledgeable investors as a well-established origin for oil palm production. Within Africa, Gabon stands out among suitable locations and its advantages underpin the commitment we made in 2010 to develop 50,000 hectares of palm plantation in the country. This new plantation acreage effectively represents the continent’s largest palm development in recent years, with our early estates already starting to bear fruit.
Gabon: exceptional in the Africa context
Gagan Gupta, President & Country Head, Olam Gabon
Gabon has witnessed infrastructure development at a rapid and encouraging pace. There has been a distinct shift from a purely public service approach to development to one where the private sector works hand-in-hand with the government to diversify the country’s sources of income. This is done by supporting businesses that can help grow the country’s economy and opportunities for its people in a sustainable way. Olam Palm Gabon is playing a leading role in this African Green Revolution.
Palm cultivation in Gabon: making progress
Supramaniam R. Ramasamy, President & Global Head, Palm and Rubber Plantations
Olam started cultivating palm in Gabon in 2011. Today, we have already planted 31,500 of the 50,000 hectares we target to plant by 2017. It has been an incredible journey. Along the way, we have built a team of nearly 5,200 dedicated employees, focusing on a sustainable approach that ensures the success of an upstream operation that is of an unprecedented scale in Africa.
More than a social licence: taking the lead in sustainable palm practices
Dr Christopher Stewart, Head of Environment and Sustainability, Olam Gabon
The debate on sustainability has reached a mature pitch in the palm sector. At Olam Palm Gabon, we have taken an industry-leading role by applying global principles and practices through Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), Environmental & Social Impact Assessments (ESIA), country specific Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil Principles and Criteria (RSPO P&C) to our palm plantation investments along with taking the lead with the High Carbon Stock (HCS+) study group.