History of partnership between agro-industries and oil palm smallholders in Cameroon

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The present article explores the origin and changes in partnership agreements established between agro-industries and oil palm smallholders in Cameroon. The different forms of partnership which have existed over the years in the oil palm sector until now are assessed, notably the FONADER-sponsored smallholder scheme (1978 to 1991) and more recently the Afriland First Bank sponsored villagisation project of Socapalm Eseka (2007/2008 to present). Special attention is given to the factors and conditions that have influenced the outcomes of these partnerships, specifically the failure of the FONADER-sponsored smallholder scheme. The authors conclude that with the current absence of steady support from the government to oil palm smallholders, especially after the implementation of the structural adjustment plans, private partnership schemes between agro-industries and oil palm smallholders could be highly profitable for both stakeholders. Such partnerships can foster social cohesion and limit further encroachment of agro-industries into the primary forest, provided such partnership agreements are carefully planned and adequately implemented.

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