Oil palm in Cameroon: risks and opportunities

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Oil palm is a native of the central African region, and has been cultivated in Cameroon since times immemorial to produce cooking oil, palm wine, and soap. In 2011, about 100 000 ha of oil palm were grown by small and medium holders and 70 000 ha were owned and exploited by agro-industries. This area is not productive enough to cover the domestic needs for oil, and the country imports about 50 000 tons of crude palm oil per year (CPO/year). As a consequence the government wants to develop the sector, and explore several possibilities, including foreign investment in oil palm plantations. A major concern of the civil society is the direct consequence of rapid expansion of oil palm plantations, which can impact on local people's access to land, induce the displacement of (other) food crop production, and directly or indirectly cause deforestation (indirectly where other crops are displaced and forests converted to new agricultural land). The paper questions the risks and opportunities of further oil palm development in Cameroon.

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