Palm and Rubber in Gabon
All of our palm and rubber projects include participatory mapping and social impact assessments prior to land development. In our plantations, we obtain the Free Prior and Informed Consent of local populations, witnessed by a Social Contract. We have such contracts with 46 villages – note all bar one were villages around the plantations, not on land within the concession areas.
These social contracts cover multiple activities. From 2012 to end of 2015 these have included:
Education: 16 houses for teachers and 14 schools built or rehabilitated to date; provision of classroom kits, and furnishing
Health: 3 new pharmacies and dispensaries built; existing dispensaries supplied with medical kits and medicines
Public infrastructure: 9 public meeting rooms built or rehabilitated; one market area plus a police post
Public utilities: 59 boreholes drilled and equipped with manual pumps; over 1,000 solar street lights installed; 300km of public roads rehabilitated and graded
Leisure: 21 football fields prepared and equipped; sports and other kit donated
Support for local economic activity: 2 village cassava mills built and equipped; 28 farmer groups trained and equipped; local development committees set up to manage social development funds totalling US$450,000 as of December 2015.
Also, through our GRAINE* Joint Venture with the Republic of Gabon, rural Gabonese will be able to manage their own mini palm and food crop plantations. This pioneering programme aims to help rural communities to thrive and reduce pressure on urban areas by spurring economic activity and providing employment – Gabon currently records about 23% unemployment. It will also increase food security by forming farming cooperatives with guaranteed access to markets and improved farming methods.
The project has been launched in 5 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. 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.
A GRAINE cooperative member receiving the land tenure certificate.
* GRAINE stands for Gabonaise des Realisations Agricoles et des Initiatives des Nationaux Engages or Gabonese Initiative for Achieving Agricultural Outcomes with Engaged Citizens
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