Our first Palm oil industry investment was in 2007, a joint venture with a minority stake under Nauvu Investments, an integrated palm player with a leading presence in Côte d’Ivoire and plantations of various sizes.
We entered into another joint venture with the Republic of Gabon in 2010, to develop large scale sustainable palm plantations to RSPO standards. Given its suitable soil and climatic conditions, Gabon has the potential to be a cost-competitive palm oil producer. We are developing 58,000 hectares of palm plantations out of a total leasehold land bank of 144,000 hectares from which only suitable land is selected for palm plantations; this includes area managed for smallholders’ development. Areas that will be found unsuitable for sustainable development will not be developed.
Our Awala plantation achieved RSPO certification – the first for a new development in Africa – in August 2016 and in January 2018 the Bilala mill and plantation (Lot 1) of our Mouila developments achieved certification.
In July 2016 OPG bought palm oil assets from SIAT Gabon (palm plantation, mill, refinery and associated infrastructure near Makouke, Gabon) and a team is now in place to bring the entire operation into RSPO certification by 2019.
Additionally, Olam has a joint venture with the Republic of Gabon (49:51 ownership by Olam/RoG respectively) to develop co-operative smallholder farming and revitalise village agriculture in Gabon. The new company, Sotrader, is developing co-operative palm plantations under a nucleus/outgrower model and has completed the due diligence process for 58,000 ha which 30,000 ha is plantable in a predominantly savanna landscape in Ngounié Province, S. Gabon, close to the Olam Mouila plantations. To date 7,500 ha has been planted.