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Stimulating the rural agri economy through training and land tenure

In March 2015 we announced a Joint Venture with the Republic of Gabon (49% Olam: 51% RoG).

Aimed at skilling rural communities and bringing them into the formal economy of food production, the GRAINE* Project identifies, allocates and transfers parcels of land (with title certificates) that are environmentally and socially suitable for plantation development to co-operatives of Gabonese citizens who will undergo training to grow and manage plantations for palm oil and cash/food crops like cassava, banana, tomatoes and pepper. This will lead to the emergence of a new generation of skilled, productive and socially responsible farmers helping to reduce Gabon’s 30% unemployment rate.

The joint venture effectively acts as a Public Private Partnership where RoG provides land and financial resources for developing the smallholder plantations and logistics infrastructure, while Olam leads in the development and management of the nucleus and smallholder plantations. Olam will also provide market access through purchasing the crops.

The project has been launched in five provinces of Gabon and as of March 2016, almost 14,000 cooperative members have been registered in 447 different cooperatives.  It is anticipated that the programme will embrace 20,000 members in the coming months. It has also:

  • Created over 680 direct and 480 indirect jobs
  • Arranged for 2,500 rural cooperative members to go to Malaysia for a 4-month training course in agricultural management techniques
  • Arranged for 100 people to receive engineering training at CAT’s Casablanca Training Center

Provision of land tenure certificates

One of the most significant challenges facing rural communities in emerging markets is the lack of land tenure certificates.  Under GRAINE, each co-operative will receive 30 to 50 hectares of land guaranteed by their own land title. In order to ensure that the lands selected for farming do not negatively impact the environment, Olam has worked with the Government and civil society to devise a new, legally binding environmental and social due diligence framework, adapted to the scale of the project, trained environmental and social teams working at the provincial level, and initiated land preparation in dozens of sites across the country.  We have also created nurseries supplied with improved planting materials and supervised by expert agronomists.

* GRAINE stands for Gabonaise des Realisations Agricoles et des Initiatives des Nationaux Engages or Gabonese Initiative for Achieving Agricultural Outcomes with Engaged Citizenry