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Training and development from day one

Nationalisation of the team is not merely a best practice – it is essential for culture and technology transfer.  Gabonese nationals make up 90% of our team and the balance are expatriates with high quality skills in this sector who provide the initial training to prepare the national team to run the operations independently at international standards.  Our aim is to transition more national employees into managerial functions by 2020.

At inception, we identified the required competency levels. We then selected qualified and experienced Asian planters, engineers and operators from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines and Malaysia as well as their counterparts from other African countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire. These team members deliver training and transfer of technology and farming culture to local employees who are new to the sector.

So far 4,200 employees have been trained in the classroom and the field, clocking more than 5,000 hours of training in agronomy, health & safety, RSPO and Good Agricultural Practices. Every year OPG offers its national employees internship programmes in established companies in Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Italy and Morocco.  For example, in 2015, two national employees completed a Diploma in Intensive Oil Palm Management and Technology offered by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board in Malaysia and another two completed a stint at palm mills in the country.  In addition, every year, 30 interns will be attached at three agricultural colleges and universities in Gabon for six months.

To ensure an available pool of local talent, we are exploring tie-ups with local universities to find young and talented Gabonese who will not only have the relevant training but also a good fit with our organisational culture and ambitions.

With the launch of the joint initiative between OPG and RoG under the GRAINE scheme, Olam teamed up with the world’s largest CPO producer, Felda Global Ventures (FGV), to launch a training programme in oil palm plantation management for over 2,000 Gabonese smallholders to help them become commercially viable RSPO certified plantation owners. To qualify for the land parcels, the Gabonese smallholders must undergo rigorous training in Good Agricultural Practices to enable them to achieve RSPO certification.  FGV has been recognised by the World Bank and the United Nations as having the most successful outgrower development model in the world.