While the exportation of rubber and palm oil is tremendously successful, creating sustainable agriculture in Gabon that can feed the population continues to be a problem.
Impact on Gabon’s GDP
In a nation like Gabon, where about 86 percent of the population lives in urban areas and forests cover roughly 85 percent of the land, the agriculture industry has a mild influence on the country’s economic success. According to the Oxford Business Group, the decreasing number of rural inhabitants has, in turn, led to a smaller agricultural industry.
However, in 2009, President Ali Bongo Ondimba announced the Emerging Gabon Strategic Plan, which aimed to enhance agriculture’s impact on the GDP as well as achieve self-sufficiency by 2020. The plan quickly displayed results, with the agricultural GDP increasing about 0.2 percent from 2014 to 2015. While these changes may be relatively small, the plan also increased employment in the agricultural sector by about 10.6 percent, or 1,037 workers in 2015. These small strides toward sustainable agriculture in Gabon can be attributed to the Agricultural Development and Investment Project, which increased the amount of arable land in Gabon.
Decreasing Imports to Increase Self-Sufficiency
According to AfricaNews, Gabon spends about $760 million each year on food imports. In order to achieve fully sustainable agriculture in Gabon, the dependence on imports must be decreased. However, this can only be accomplished with an increase in subsistence crop farming. To enhance subsistence crop farming, the Gabonese government has adopted a self-sufficiency plan focusing on increasing the yield of crops such as cassava, banana, plantain and tomato. This plan aims to increase economic independence and allow Gabon to be self-sufficient.
“We recommend in this recovery plan to be able to reduce 75 percent of imports of products and foodstuffs by the year 2023. And this, on the animal production component and the plant production component,” said Gabonese agricultural minister Yves-Fernard Manfoumbi.
Poultry Project Increasing Self-Sufficiency
One import that Gabon is working to overcome is chicken. Annually, Gabon imports about $50 million worth of poultry, a threatening amount of dependence for the country’s food supply. To further increase self-sufficiency, the Gabonese government has reached an agreement with an Indian company, L7H Life Resources Overseas, that will invest about $60 million in the poultry industry. The company is providing incubators, animal feed manufacturing, broilers and investments in advancing breeding techniques. The project is taking place in Nkok and is a huge step toward allowing Gabon to feed itself.