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Our Palm Plantations

Sustainable and responsible palm development that protects forests and respects communities.

We operate oil palm plantations in Gabon – Awala and Mouila are have been established since 2011; Makouke is an older plantation acquired by Olam in 2016; whilst Ndende is a new planting developed 100% in grasslands to incorporate cooperative smallholders.

In developing our plantations, we conducted detailed independent third-party assessments on selected lands to assess the suitability from an agricultural, biodiversity and social perspective in order to meet the requirements of our Sustainable Palm Oil Policy. Olam identified and set aside 50 per cent of our concession as conservation area.

From an overall concession area of 202,000 hectares (ha), we have planted 64,000 ha which includes the rehabilitation of an oil palm plantation acquired from SIAT in 2016. We are protecting 99,000 ha of High Conservation Value forest and other areas such as buffer zones.

In 2011 we were the first company to apply the RSPO’s new plantings procedures in Africa for the Awala plantation. To date 112,455 ha of our palm plantations in Gabon are RSPO certified and we are on track to achieve 100 per cent RSPO certification of our operations in Gabon by 2021. Gabon’s lands are also protected through a National Parks network (11% of land area), and all forestry concessions are subject to the country’s sustainable forestry laws.

The investment in palm plantations in Gabon has created employment opportunities for about 6,000 Gabonese nationals, of whom many had never previously had permanent employment. We have invested heavily in training to develop the range of new skills required on a palm plantation and its associated activities.

Earning the social license to operate is integral to the successful long-term development and management of plantations. Regular and open engagement with our local communities is vital for our continued success. From the outset, we have committed to a fully inclusive process with communities to ensure Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). This process means we regularly engage and have established social contracts with 60 villages in the proximity of the plantations .

Read more about our approach to engaging and supporting communities or our commitment to sustainable palm oil here.

Read our response to World Rainforest Movement’s petition about Olam’s palm plantations in Gabon.

Click here to view where Olam's plantations located.

Maximising yield from the land through digitalisation and mechanisation

Using technology, such as drones, in all our plantations we monitor palm stands, plant health, field condition and conservation area. Digital tools including AgriPal (digital apps) and AgriDb (digital dashboard) enable timely management intervention and enhance productivity, while mechanised spraying and fertiliser application has seen a 3-fold and 14-fold increase in productivity and uniformity respectively.

Maximising yield from the land through operational excellence and best management practices

We are collaborating with research organisations, such as Africa Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI), Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Agropolis Fondation in France, and the Commonwealth Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia to carry out research and development in oil palm to improve operational efficiencies, productivity and yields. As part of our focus on implementing practices to optimize productivity and reduce food loss and waste, we published a case study in July 2019 about crop losses from plantation production, transportation, and mill processing. We have taken steps to strengthen procedures and implement best practices to minimise loss and waste on our plantations, and via a mobile app we are using real-time data and geotagging to track harvested and uncollected fresh-fruit bunches. This is resulting in a 60% reduction in post-harvest crop loss across all our palm plantation estates. Olam Palm Gabon is committed to best management practices in maintaining and improving soil fertility. Comprehensive SOP is developed on soil conservation to prevent soil erosion, including no planting recommendation for slope above 20° based on agronomy advise, establish cover crops, and maintaining riparian. Soil studies were conducted in all plantations with specific management recommendations for each category of soil. Annual leaf sampling and periodic soil sampling are conducted to determine soil health. A nutrient recycling strategy such as empty fruit bunches (EFB) and palm oil mill effluent (POME) land application, fronds stacking is in place.

Maximising yield from the land through research

All agri-businesses need to optimise the finite amount of land suitable for feeding the world’s growing population. In Gabon we have invested in a Centre of Excellence which undertakes testing and analysis of plant tissues, soils, fertilisers and water, the lab is partnering with the Wageningen Evaluating Programs for Analytical Laboratories (WEPAL), to ensure quality lab results.
Reports and Assessments
  • Document
    Awala & Makouke Reports and Assessments
    Download [24MB,ZIP]
  • Document
    Mouila Reports and Assessments
    Download [3.9MB,ZIP]
  • Document
    GRAINE Reports and Assessments
    Download [504KB,ZIP]

Want to Know More?

Conserving Gabon’s Cultural Heritage

A treasure trove of 14th Century artefacts was discovered deep within a conservation area of Olam’s palm plantation in Gabon.

Protecting Gabon's Biodiversity

Managing palm plantations in a biodiversity rich country like Gabon requires extensive efforts to support and safeguard the country’s natural heritage. 

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