Palm oil: Socapalm production threatened by clandestine operators

The palm oil production of the Société camerounaise de palmeraies (Socapalm) should not exceed 150,000 tonnes at the end of the 2022 financial year. production hovered around 152,323 tonnes. According to the companies, this underperformance is attributable to unfair competition from clandestine operators who, in addition to marketing the kilogram of palm nuts at exorbitant prices, also carry out the activity of pressing these nuts.

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Indeed, apart from its production, Socapalm buys palm nuts from small growers. However, the proliferation of informal operators “and the price higher than ours at which the managers of the presses buy the bunches from the small planters, we have seen our volume of purchases of nuts from the small planters drop in favor of the informal presses not controlled by the state”, indicates a source well introduced within the company. “The pressers sell the oil produced at a high price (a liter is 1100 FCFA) without being worried about it, whereas we cannot sell more than 450 FCFA per kg. The spills from the presses around our plantations have a real and negative environmental impact and it is to Socapalm that these environmental shortcomings have been attributed even though we are ISO14001 and Rspo certified”, adds the same source.

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The Palmerais company also deplores the fraudulent nature of their activities: “these pressers operate in the informal sector, they do not pay taxes and are not subject to any fiscal control, they do not comply with any requirements of environmental standards. They settle all around our plantations and steal our bunches to produce their own”, we explain to the communication unit of Socapalm.

This deplorable situation faced by the local subsidiary of Socfin is part of a bigger problem. According to the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (Irad), “30% of national production escapes the norm, a good part of the production of the Southwest goes to Nigeria”. According to the institute, “The key to the problems of the palm oil sector would be to first get out of the informal sector. The phenomenon helps to maintain the inflation of the price of this foodstuff, which has peaked since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis”.

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Over the years, the rate of imports of crude palm oil, useful in the production of vegetable oils, soaps, etc., has increased. Nearly 80,000 tonnes in 2019; 70,000 tonnes in 2020 and 100,000 tonnes in 2021, Cameroon has authorized imports of 14,3000 tonnes of crude palm oil in 2022. Quantities that provide sufficient information on the country’s production deficit.

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Palm oil: Socapalm production threatened by clandestine operators