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Agribusiness Giant Pledges to Stop Gabon Deforestation for a Year

Singapore-listed agribusiness giant Olam has responded to pressure from an environmental campaign group by agreeing to put a hold on forest clearing activity in Western Africa and Southeast Asia, and introduce new measures to cut peatland development and labour abuses out of its supply chain.

Olam, which is majority owned by Singapore government investment vehicle Temasek, was linked to deforestation in Gabon and Southeast Asia in an investigation by Mighty Earth in December last year.

The report, titled Palm Oil’s Black Box, accused Olam of creating a “black box” for unethical palm oil growers to sell produce grown on deforested land, and lagging behind rival palm oil companies such as Golden Agri Resources, Musim Mas and Wilmar for not having a “zero deforestation” policy in place.

Olam denied the allegations, making the case that the company is playing an important role in reducing poverty and development in the African country where a third of the population lives below the poverty line. But two months after the report was published, the company has agreed to overhaul its supply chain and begin to phase out unsustainable farming practices.

Kate Evans/CIFOR

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