In 2007, the Socfin Group reinvested in the Democratic Republic of Congo and acquired the Brabanta plantation. On this old abandoned plantation, Socfin replanted 6 200 hectares with the latest generation of oil palms.
The site of the Mapangu plantations, created by Sir William LEVER (Unilever) in 1911, is one of the oldest in the world. Unilever abandoned the plantation in the 1980s and activities were entirely stopped in the beginning of the 1990s.
Today, the site has a modern palm oil extraction plant. Socfin is one of the few companies to have invested on such a scale in the agro-industrial sector in the DRC.
At the instigation of the Socfin Group, economic activity revived, significantly increasing industrial palm oil production in the DRC. However, national production from smallholdings and industrial palm plantations is insufficient to cover domestic demand in this vast country, which imports more than 95 000 tons of palm oil every year.
All the oil in the DRC is produced exclusively for the domestic market, and in particular for industrial sectors such as food, soap and cosmetics.
This project will continue its expansion, in both the oil palm and rubber sectors.
The investments made, on an agricultural as well as an industrial level, have generated unexpected job opportunities for this remote area of Mapangu. The palm plantations provide a regular income – directly and indirectly – for more than 10 000 people, and are an important source of new job creation, particularly through the increase in river traffic.
Moreover, widespread training and retraining for both new and old employees have contributed to overall regional development: training in new agricultural techniques and in environmental protection etc. One has to bear in mind that a large number of the region’s inhabitants did not have a steady job… for more than 20 years.
The Brabanta plantation also supports the training of young people in various institutions in the region: firstly, by providing educational material and secondly by offering apprenticeships within the company.
In addition, road construction (more than 300 km of tracks and numerous bridges) connecting the plantation’s surrounding area enabled this remote region of the DRC to open up for trade and mobility.
Improving the workers’ living conditions is an integral part of plantation development. Hence, about 1 000 homes were constructed, water points were created and various new schools were constructed and rehabilitated.
The West Kasai province, in particular the territory of Ilebo, is developing significantly thanks to the plantation. Today, Mapangu has become an important economic hub for both the territory and the province.
Public service infrastructure was renovated. For example, the hospital now has new wards: maternity, surgery, radiology, ultrasonography, pediatrics, etc. All services are available to the nearly 100 000 people – in addition to the plantation workforce – living in the Mapangu region. Access to health care is facilitated for the surrounding population in collaboration with the departmental health district.