Gabon’s answer to need for diversification: palm oil

7/25/2018 9:29:23 AM

The central African country of Gabon is one of Africa’s oil producing countries. But with oil prices plummeting and reserves declining, the country was looking for a new source of income. Palm oil is the answer.

In an effort to offer the people of Gabon thousands of jobs, the country will soon have the largest palm oil plantation in Africa — over 82,000 hectares. The government has partnered with agricultural giant Olam to develop the project.

The project has raised some discussions, as palm oil production is controversial in some countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia. Palm oil production is often associated with deforestation, labor exploitation and chimpanzee murder. Critics fear that Gabon, covered for 80 percent by dense tropical forest, may not be able to prevent deforestation.

In a report by OSY, Olam and the government say preserving the environment is their biggest priority. The company’s palm oil plantations are the first in Africa to be certified as “sustainable” by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

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