Equatorial Guinea has been thought of as a barren land, unable to produce it’s own food supply, and importing approximately 80% of what the country consumes. The leadership of the country understands that this isn’t sustainable, and must come up with solutions and feed itself.
Equatorial Guinea possesses several vital ingredients that could potentially fuel growth in the agriculture sector. However, the country in no longer looking at being mere food suppliers. Instead, the expectations are that the country will drive investment in the agriculture sector, and these investors should not only seek commercial benefits from their engagements in Equatorial Guinea but also contribute toward the country’s development by way of capacity building initiatives, transfer of knowledge and technologies, and local employment generation. Equatorial Guinea has pursued this inclusive approach, and has engaged MAECI (Management and Economics Consulting, Inc.) www.maeci.org a United States based international consulting firm, to deliver the desired results.
Equatorial Guinea has vast stretches of cultivable lands that can collectively become the food basket of their country and the region. This process does not come without significant challenges. Although the soil is fertile, it lies within dense forest. The forest must be cleared carefully as not to disturb the very thin soil levels. The deforestation process is a complicated process that must be completed by contractors that have experience in the region.
MAECI has played a catalytic role in initiating this agriculture project, and proving to the government that indeed food can be grown within the country, and they can in turn feed themselves, as well as create economic partnerships through path-breaking initiatives, such as agriculture.
MAECI has been engaged and supported fully by President Teodoro Obiang, and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue. The pilot project is located just outside the city of Mongomo, and calls for a 750 hectare corn & Soybean farm, including processing plants that will enable the corn & Soybeans to be processed into meal, flour, oil and animal feed. It will also enable the people in the surrounding community, to work at the farm and be trained in farming, so that one-day they can start their own farms. These community farms will then supply the processing plants, thereby creating a micro-economy.
Phase I & II of the project called for the 750-hectare location to be cleared and 500 hectares planted. This was no easy task. The entire location was covered in dense forest. The milestone has been achieved, and MAECI is now entering Phase III of the project, and harvesting over 500 hectares of Corn and Soybeans this upcoming December.
In addition, a variety of test crops were planted to determine if the land could produce such fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, water melon, egg plant and green beans to name a few. The results were fantastic, and proved as an example of what Equatorial Guinea / MAECI Cooperation could potentially deliver.
In recent years, underpinned by sustained demand for gas and oil, as also for other products of the extractive industries, such as minerals and metals, the African region has witnessed sustained rise in economic activity. This project has proven that agriculture can be added to this list, and will not only provide the solution for feeding a population, but will also provide a boost to their economic activity and growth. Considerable progress has been achieved from the strong commitment of the government of Equatorial Guinea, to put oil revenue to work for the betterment of its people.