With the ambition of developing a sustainable palm oil sector, Congo committed in 2016 to the African Palm Oil Initiative (APOI), this flagship initiative of Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020. The TFA involves 10 countries in West and Central Africa, as well as key palm oil consumers, businesses, traders and producers, civil society, and groups representing local communities and indigenous peoples.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAEP) and with Proforest and the World Resources Institute (WRI), which facilitates the Congolese platform, the objective is to support the TFA APOI platform in defining legal and sustainable palm oil, as well as other forest-risk commodities, such as cocoa, rubber and cashew. Such a definition would then enable the collection of information on associated key performance indicators, thereby measuring the sustainability of commodities. These measurements could in turn inform governance reforms.
The oil palm sector is rapidly expanding in the Republic of the Congo. At the same time, at the regional and international level, initiatives are emerging to reduce deforestation due to the production of agricultural commodities, including oil palm, cocoa, soy, rubber and others.
During the first Congolese TFA APOI workshop in August 2017, platform members validated the 10 national principles of the TFA2020 Action Plan for the development of a sustainable palm oil sector in the Republic of the Congo. The APOI platform was institutionalised by Ministerial Order of 1 October 2019.
The challenge for the next few years is to find solutions to ensure that this development is part of the country’s commitments, particularly on climate change, on the fight against the loss of forest cover and on the way to implement the decision to direct agricultural expansion to the savannah areas.
GTC plantations in savannah areas. Pool deparment, Republic of the Congo
At the request of the stakeholders of the TFA APOI process, we supported a study of the legal framework for sustainable palm oil development and production in the Republic of the Congo. The study was presented and validated at an APOI workshop on 18 October 2019.
We then supported the development of a roadmap for the development and production of legal and sustainable palm oil in the Republic of Congo (2020-2021) and a scoping note on the jurisdictional approach for legal and sustainable palm oil in the Republic of the Congo (May 2020).
In June 2020 and July 2021, we organised two workshops that brought together around 50 members of the platform. At these events, we presented possible options to defining legal palm oil in the Republic of Congo and we agreed on developing a jurisdictional approach in the Pool Department and in close collaboration with private sector actors whose economic models are relying on satisfying national demand first.
These workshops also provided the opportunity to present the results of the socio-economic impact assessment of land-use scenarios in the Plateaux, Pool and Cuvette-Ouest departments. Conducted in close collaboration first with WRI, then with Kinomé, this study is based on the last version of the Land-Use Planner. The study showed that it was entirely possible to meet the growing demand for palm oil on the national market by concentrating production in the savannah areas.
GTC oil palm plantation. Pool department, Republic of the Congo