Africa > Central Africa > Gabon > Gabon’s agricultural plans advance

Gabon: Gabon’s agricultural plans advance


A drive to increase agricultural output and make Gabon a leader in African palm oil production took a key step forward this month with the completion of the country’s major palm oil plant.

Palm oil’s potential

Located in Mouila, in the south-eastern province of Ngounié, the new palm oil factory is being operated by the Singapore-based Olam Group.

Its position among a 38,300-ha oil palm grove provides the facility with direct access to an abundance of raw materials. Olam plans to increase production over time by cultivating the 100,000-ha granted to it under the terms of the concession.

The initial harvesting phase of the plantation took place in June and yielded 7100 tonnes of palm fruit.

Initially, the facility will produce 45 tonnes of palm oil per hour, with throughput rising to 90 tonnes once it reaches full capacity. Olam has said it aims to produce 1m tonnes of palm oil from the site in 2017.

In November last year Gabon as well started exporting crude palm oil from a similar facility in Awala near Kango, sending 300 tonnes of oil to Cameroon, Nigeria and Spain.

GRAINE gathering momentum

The new palm oil plant and export activity represent landmarks in Gabon’s efforts to develop a national upstream agri-business industry, one of the targets laid out in the country’s agricultural programme (Gabonaise des Réalisations Agricoles et des Initiatives des Nationaux Engagés, GRAINE).

Launched in March 2015, with CFA 200bn (€305m) in funding from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farming and the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), GRAINE is a key component of Gabon’s plans to develop its agricultural industry. The programme forms part of the broader Green Gabon plan, which targets strengthening agricultural output and improving food security.

While agriculture currently provides employment for 95% of Gabon’s workforce, its contribution to GDP is just 5%. The country as well imports roughly 80% of its food, as a lot of farmers operate on a subsistence basis. GRAINE plans to reduce food imports by 50% by encouraging local production and raise agriculture’s contribution to the economy to 20% of GDP by the end of the decade through higher levels of exports.

Sourcing support

Some of the country’s smaller-scale operators, meanwhile, are receiving support through other initiatives. In February the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, AFD) renewed its CFA10.5bn (€16m) programme that provides funding and technical assistance to self-sufficient producers in Gabon, inclunding farmers and cooperatives.

The programme helped roll out a total of 1094 agricultural initiatives from 2012 to 2016, ranging from farming projects and market gardens, to processing facilities and stables.

Addressing the challenges

With approximately 20m ha of land suitable for agricultural use still unexploited, Gabon’s agricultural sector presents a raft of untapped opportunities for industry players. However, operators looking to evolution in the sector as well face challenges.

A lack of available data is delaying the assessment and implementation of public policy, and the sensitive issue of deforestation is an extra concern. Additional than half of Olam’s projects have involved the removal of trees and plants in dedicated forest areas, though the company committed to a year-long suspension of forest clearance in Gabon last month.

Inadequate transport infrastructure as well continues to hinder operations, inclunding those at the newly completed Olam plant.

Discussing the opening of Gabon’s Mouila plant before press in late February, Yves Fernand Manfoumbi, the minister of agriculture and farming, said the private sector could play a key role in helping to address these issues, pointing out that the African Development Bank and the FAO were able to provide financial and technical assistance.

Smaller businesses operating in the processing segment as well face problems in the form of tough competition from international companies. To address this, the FAO launched a series of training sessions in February for local producers focusing on the business and technological aspects of the processing of foodstuffs, both of which have proved to be areas of concern for small operators.
Register for free Economic News Updates on Gabon

Related Articles
  • China's model of industrial zone offers valuable lessons for African development

    2018/02/19 Ethiopia has been a shining light in Africa for the completed decade with its impressive annual GDP increase rate of nearly 11 %. Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia's Ambassador to China, said that his country is drawing significant lessons, such as investment -driven development, establishment of appropriate economic zones and attracting investment , from the ways in which China has completed its globally recognized economic miracle. "[The fact that] additional than 600 million people have been lifted out of poverty in over 30 years is enough to prove the success of China's development model. It is a good example for us," he said. "We would as well like to achieve comm­on increase with other African nations through China's model of development."
  • Investment Bells Ringing

    2018/02/19 It's just been over half a year since Kenya inaugurated its standard gauge railway, but by presently the transport system is seeing heavy request from travelers between Nairobi and Mombasa. The China-built project, changing Kenya's landscape with brightly-colored trains and sparkling modern stations, is a worthy example of tangibly turning the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative into reality in Africa. China is working with its African partners to realize the modernization of the continent's infrastructure, particularly in East Africa, according to experts.
  • China Eyes New Stage of Cooperation with Africa

    2018/02/19 With a key cooperation forum and the Belt and Road Initiative, China hopes to raise its cooperation with Africa to a new stage, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday. Wang made the remarks at the same time as conference his Rwandan counterpart Louise Mushikiwabo in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, the initial stop in his new year African trip.
  • China to Host FOCAC Summit in 2018

    2018/02/19 China will host the FOCAC Summit 2018 in Beijing, according to China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang on January 2. Geng said the decision had been made based on the fact that South Africa and a lot of other African nations had all been keen to elevate the 2018 FOCAC conference into a summit and the practical needs of developing China-Africa relations. On January 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
  • Trade, security and anti-corruption top AU agenda

    2018/02/15 A single African air transport market, promises to fight corruption and plans to address the continent's crises dominated the African Union summit. But with a full schedule for 2018, how much will the AU manage? "The declaration of 2018 as the anti-corruption year by this summit was set to increase national, regional and continental awareness of the menace and improve our chances to totally eradicate it," the freshly sworn-in President Weah noted. And as a statement by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa suggests, there may indeed be a small luck for the AU's anti-corruption plans. President Zuma is losing his grip on South Africa's ruling ANC party, the statement states, in Angola, the Dos Santos dynasty seems to be crumbling and in Nigeria, a survey by the Afrobarometer research network has shown an development in how Nigerians view their government's fight against corruption since Buhari took power. What the AU, however, lacks, the statement says, is an implementation of its own anti-grant agreements and networks.
Trending Articles