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Olam JV bags sustainable cert for palm oil plantation in Africa

OLAM International's joint venture with the Republic of Gabon has received a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification for its Makouke plantation, said the mainboard-listed food and agri-business firm in a statement on Monday. 

The 18,707 hectare (ha) plantation - managed by Olam Palm Gabon (OPG) - is the fourth Olam plantation to be RSPO-certified, bringing the firm's total RSPO certified area to 112,455 ha, or 78 per cent of its total palm concessions.

Majority of the 30-year-old Makouke plantation has been replanted with "high-yielding, resistant varieties", said Olam. High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) assessments were also conducted for an undeveloped 5,488 ha area within the plantation. 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.

Overall, 65 per cent of the total concession is protected, with the remaining area allocated for infrastructure including facilities, roads and housing. 

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Olam said it remains on track to achieve RSPO certification for all its plantations in Gabon by 2021, and is committed to no further development or expansion of new plantations until it achieves its target. 

Darshan Raiyani, Olam senior vice-president and head of Gabon plantations, said: "Since our operations began, we have committed to protecting high conservation lands alongside the sustainable development and operation of our palm plantations. 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." 

OPG manages an overall concession area of 144,000 ha, with over 50 per cent of HCV forest, wetlands and savannah permanently protected. Its plantations have been assessed as climate-positive - they remove additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - by an independent panel of international scientists. 

Olam shares closed up three Singapore cents to S$1.86 on Monday.