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 128,000 hectares of palm plantations over 2 phases out of a total leasehold land bank of 300,000 hectares from which only suitable land is selected for both our rubber and 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 our Mouila plantations are on track for certification in 2017.
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 30,000 planted hectares of palm in a predominantly savanna landscape in Ngounié Province, S. Gabon, close to the Olam Mouila plantations. Sotrader is also contributing to food security by creating village-based co-operative staple crop farming across Gabon, with more than 15,000 co-operative members enrolled and 134 cooperative land titles issued to members by July 2016.