Research and development
For more than 30 years, the Socfin Group has been investing in research and development to ensure responsible tropical agriculture.
Drawing on its experience, the Socfin Group is one of the first agro-industrial players to have conducted applied agronomic research and has been investing in research and development for over 30 years. The Socfin Group’s goal is to optimize agronomic performance while protecting the environment, which is reflected in its commitment to continuous improvement and sustainable and innovative tropical agriculture. The Group’s research and development activities comprise a renewable energy component through Socfin Green Energy and an agronomic scientific research component through Socfin Research.
The subsidiary Socfin Green Energy oversees the Group’s renewable energy projects, both in Asia and in Africa. Socfin Green Energy’s work resulted in the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Liberia, meeting the energy needs of both the project and 10 000 families. After installation of the biomass boilers and dryers required for palm oil processing and natural rubber drying, Socfin Green Energy is currently working on the installation of a solar power plant in Cambodia. The oil mills are already self-sufficient in energy as they are equipped with cutting-edge co-generation plants, using 100% green and sustainable energy.
Mainly the subsidiary Socfin Research conducts the Group’s scientific research. Its goal is to achieve scientific innovation in the agronomic domain, focusing on both palm oil and rubber. Socfin Research works closely together with research institutes and various agronomic universities.
Improvement and selection of oil palm seeds is one of the major challenges of our research. Our goal is to obtain the most productive and disease resistant oil palms, in order to optimize land use but also to reduce as much as possible sanitary control methods, as both have a huge impact on environmental preservation. Research is conducted in our 2 laboratories: Camseeds in Cameroon and Socfindo in Indonesia. To address the nutritional concerns of the Western consumer, research also focuses on oil quality, more specifically: the vitamin A and E levels and the saturated fat profile.
Concerning rubber, Socfin Research collaborates with the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) on rubber phytosanitary issues to safeguard the trees by means of bio-protection techniques. By improving the natural mycorrhization of rubber tree roots, tree growth and lifespan are potentially increased while at the same time reducing the need for mineral fertilizers and pesticides.
Socfin Research is also at the forefront of applied biotechnology research in rubber production. Hence, through rubber cutting, Socfin Research attempts to obtain strong trees, wind and disease resistant, deeply rooted and with a dense canopy. Research also focuses on obtaining an adapted tree bark, allowing for easy harvesting, rich in latex. The first cutting tests in Côte d’Ivoire date back to 2012. Today, the aim of these field trials is to confirm the growth potential and exceptional production of this type of rubber plant material.
Improvement of tree health by reducing pesticide and mineral fertilizer use will have a marked impact on the protection of local ecosystems and resource use.