Olam International improves palm oil operations in Gabon
Global food and agri-business Olam International has reported its Makouke palm plantation in Gabon is the latest of its facilities to gain Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification.
The company, which remains a key player in the cocoa business, said it is aiming to ensure all its sites in the African nation will have such accredited status by 2021, as it continues to make progress with its environmental management plans.
Last year, the business produced its Sustainable Palm Update, in which it outlined its commitment to the sustainable production and supply of palm oil. The ingredient has hit major international headlines in recent years, with the industry as a whole coming under criticism from environmental groups surrounding concerns over the quality of farming operations.
As Olam explained, its Makouke plantation, which is its fourth in Gabon, is managed by Olam Palm Gabon (OPG), which is a joint venture with the Republic of Gabon. It was established in the 1960s and was acquired by OPG in 2016. The 18,707 hectare (ha) plantation is the fourth Olam plantation to become RSPO certified and brings its total RSPO certified area to 112,455 ha – 78% of its total palm concessions.
The certification reportedly placec the company as the largest certified producer in Africa with production capacity of 92,000 MT of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), 16,866 MT certified sustainable palm kernel (CSPK) and 6,500 MT of certified sustainable palm kernel oil (CSPKO).
Olam was recognised at the 2019 RSPO Excellence Awards for its strong commitment to establishing sustainable oil palm plantations that generate net positive impacts through forest conservation, species conservation and emission reduction at significant scale in Gabon.
“Since our operations began, we have committed to protecting high conservation lands alongside the sustainable development and operation of our palm plantations. We are honoured our efforts have been recognised by the RSPO in its inaugural awards. Makouke marks another step towards achieving RSPO certification for all our plantations in Gabon and cements our ambition to be the leading certified producer of palm oil in Africa”, said Darshan Raiyani, Olam Senior Vice President & Head of Gabon Plantations.
The majority of the 30-years old Makouke plantation has been replanted with high-yielding, resistant varieties and peer-reviewed High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) assessments were conducted for an undeveloped 5,488 ha area within the plantation.
Furthermore, the planted area of the concession is 5,934 ha with 1,016 ha conserved as HCV and a further 11,244 ha set aside for conservation and village use land, meaning 65% of the total concession is protected. The remaining area is allocated for infrastructure including facilities, roads and housing.
“The landscape conservation approach the Gabonese government has implemented with Olam ensures a balanced ratio between production and conservation based on scientific results. In Gabon, we are moving towards stronger guidance to make sure all companies in the agri-sector follow the same pathway and in June 2019 we announced RSPO as the norm for palm development in Gabon”, said Professor Lee White, Minister for Forests, Sea, the Environment and Climate Plan, Gabonese Republic.
Olam Palm Gabon manages an overall concession area of 144,000 ha, with over 50% (72,000 ha) of HCV forest, wetlands and savannah permanently protected. Its plantations are the only ones globally to have been assessed as climate positive (net draw-down of atmospheric carbon) by an independent panel of international scientists. Olam is committed to no further development or expansion of new plantations until all its plantations achieve full RSPO certification in 2021.