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Ivory Coast’s main palm oil company, Palmci, on Friday announced it was abandoning a major plantation scheme in the south of the country after opposition by environmentalists to destruction of a forest.
“Palmci has decided to abandon this project in the face of the refusal of certain NGOs to accept the coexistence of environmental preservation and the development of economic activity,” the firm said in a statement.
Scrapping the project would lead to the loss of a potential 1,000 agricultural jobs, 300 more in industry and an investment of 18 billion CFA francs (27.4 million euros / 36.3 million dollars), the statement added.
“It’s a shame for the region,” Franck Eba, Palmci’s spokesman on sustainable development, told AFP, but he explained that opposition from non-governmental organisations had made the scheme “too complicated.”
“We’re satisfied,” said Inza Kone, the coordinator of RASAP-CI, a research and action programme to safeguard primates in the west African nation, but he rejected the idea that ecologists were ideologically opposed to development.
Palmci had planned to promote palm oil production in the forest swamplands of Tanoe in the far southeast of Ivory Coast, a region where rare primates are already at risk of extinction, Kone added.
This unprotected forest territory covers about 12,000 hectares (29,700 acres) between the Ehy lagoon and the Tanoe river, which forms a natural border with Ghana.
Palmci has not altogether given up on its plan and is scouting other areas where it can step up palm oil production, Eba said.