May 22, 2012 / 6:03 PM / 7 years ago

Cameroon says Cargill eyes 50,000-ha oil palm project

YAOUNDE, May 22 (Reuters) - U.S agribusiness conglomerate Cargill plans to invest up to 200 billion CFA francs ($390 million) in a 50,000-hectare oil palm plantation in Cameroon, an official at the Central African nation’s investment agency said on state radio.

Marthe-Angeline Minja, director of Cameroon’s Investment Promotion Agency (API) made the comments after meeting Cargill officials but did not give further details, while a Cargill spokeswoman said the firm does not comment on speculations.

“At any one time, Cargill is assessing a number of initiatives to progress our business strategy, which may help to further develop our businesses and grow our presence in particular markets,” said Corinne Holtshausen

“It is our policy that we will communicate only as and when there are any significant developments,” Holtshausen said in an email response on Tuesday.

Minja said Cargill has shown interest in investing between 100-200 billion CFA francs immediately in the country once it is offered the opportunity.

“They (Cargill) are in a sector which creates employment and the investment is a serious one. We at the API think it is a project to be taken seriously,” she said.

Cargill already has investments in Cameroon’s cocoa sector where Telcar Cocoa, its joint venture partner, is the country’s leading cocoa exporter.

The oil palm sector in Cameroon and other sub-Saharan African nations have attracted interest from international agro-industry groups.

New York-based agricultural company Herakles Farms plans to develop a $350 million 60,000-hectare oil palm plantation in the country, while Biopalm Energy, a subsidiary of Singapore’s Siva group said in August it will launch a 900 billion CFA Francs ($1.75 billion) palm oil investment project.

Environmental groups have however raised concerns that some of the oil palm projects could endanger plant and animal species, a charge the firms have rejected.

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