Explaining African Palm Oil’s Risks & Inability to Grow

The palm oil industry had high hopes for palm oil production to expand across Africa. But by the end of 2019 concessions across the continent were nearly half of what they were in 2016, and only 8% of those concessions have been developed into plantations according to recent estimates.

Despite its slow growth, the palm oil industry in Africa has been connected to numerous social and environmental impacts including land theft, worker and human rights abuses, and illegal deforestation.

Why has palm oil struggled to grow across several African nations? And why has a relatively small industry been unable to address serious environmental and social concerns? And which companies, including FMCGs, and financiers (investors and banks) can be linked to ESG violations?

Together with Emmanuel Elong from SYNAPARCAM, a member of the Alliance Against Industrial Plantations in West and Central Africa, and Devlin Kuyek, Global Programme GRAIN, CRR analysts explored our latest findings and shared insights from the ground on Africa’s palm oil sector.