Today, nearly 48% of Cameroon’s palm oil comes from the Socapalm plantations (La Société Camerounaise des Palmeraies). The future of this company, which is located in remote rural areas, is closely linked to the sustainable development of the local population and the local economic fabric.
In the mid-1960s, the vegetable oil shortage worsened in Cameroon. To address this problem, the government started the creation of large agro-industrial complexes. And so Socapalm was established in 1968.
Between 1968 and 1980, the company planted 18 000 hectares of oil palms. However, as a state company, Socapalm was not competitive in the local socio-economic context, and a privatization process was therefore initiated. Privatization became effective in June 2000.
Ever since, Socapalm has implemented an ambitious investment policy. Its investments have increased by no less than 1 000% since 2000! The performance of its production units but also the infrastructure and public services in and around the plantations have improved dramatically.
Socapalm is aware that Cameroon has a palm oil shortage certain times of the year compared to its domestic needs. Therefore, a rejuvenation of its plantations was initiated to improve yields and environmental protection. The company also implemented a plantation diversification policy in favor of rubber cultivation.
The company engages with numerous young entrepreneurs in its plantation activities and works in close collaboration with them throughout the production process.
Socapalm regards health as a key component of development. Therefore, it places health prevention at the heart of its plantations’ health policy. The medical team performs the following tasks:
Systematic visits of the villages
Health education on the major pandemics in Cameroon
The company has been ISO 14001 certified since 2015, confirming its profound determination to promote a genuine culture of eco-responsibility within the company as well as within the employees’ families and environment.
Finally, Socapalm has been a partner of the IECD until 2020 and has recently signed a partnership with the APPA (Association des Professionnels de la Pédagogie de l'Alternance), which perpetuates the IECD's mission to improve the professional integration of rural youth by relying on the concept of Agricultural Family Schools (AFS). An AFS, supported by Socapalm and accompanied by the IECD, opened its doors in 2014, welcoming nearly 40 children from the Kienké plantation region. In 2022, under the supervision of the APPA, 48 future learners took the entrance exams.
As a real backbone of economic development in the southern region, Socapalm is one of three companies listed on the Douala Stock Exchange.
Since its privatization, Socapalm has implemented an investment policy focusing on the economic development of these remote areas, but also on the creation of community infrastructure for the population. It facilitates the surrounding communities’ access to health care, education, water and roads connecting the surrounding villages and national routes.