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Investment in R&D: developing a centre of excellence

R&D is another strategic priority as we develop OPG into a long-term, sustainable and profitable business.

Olam has invested in the construction of a Centre of Excellence within OPG which will undertake the testing and analysis of plant tissues, soils, fertilisers, water, effluent, and agrichemicals to improve yield and efficiency. It also aims to reduce production costs through breeding, tissue culture, agronomy and crop protection.

R&D is also an area characterised by strong collaboration and partnerships. We have initiated tie-ups with reputable research organisations, such as Temasek LifeScience Laboratory (TLL) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Agropolis Foundation International in France, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia.

For example, we collaborated with TLL on biofertiliser and pollination during the rainy season and recently undertook the management of elephants and palm weevil Rynchophorus Sp in plantation as part of an integrated pest management and crop protection programme with CSIRO and Agropolis.

Additionally, we are working with NUS to provide sufficient high quality planting materials for future expansion developed specifically for utilisation in Africa.  Our long term goal is to identify and select planting materials with 30% higher yield (oil per hectare per year basis) than the current commercial planting materials adapted to conditions in Africa.

Independent research activities also include irrigation, fertiliser, progeny trials, clonal plantings, drone application, oil palm breeding, integrated pest management and fruit ripening using plant growth regulators and biofertiliser as catalysts.