Stimulating investment in agriculture is considered a crucial part of diversifying Gabon’s economy and reducing dependency on food imports. The government is currently supporting a two-track investment programme that will encourage agro-industrial projects to increase the sector’s contribution to GDP and support small-scale farmers to boost production for local markets. Gabon has great potential for cash crops and recent increases in investment are likely to scale up production of rubber, palm oil, coffee, cocoa and sugar. The country has signed agreements with foreign companies to develop palm oil plantations, as well as a rubber plantation and processing plant. The timber market, which makes up 6% of non-hydrocarbons GDP, was dealt a blow with the raw timber export ban in 2010 – a ruling that bankrupted many small producers. However, the number of local processing facilities is rapidly rising and the government is focusing on increasing downstream activity in the segment.
This chapter contains interviews with Julien Nkoghe Bekale, Minister of Agriculture; and Ernst A Brugger, Chairman, Precious Woods.