The Tropical Tree Crop Sector of Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa has suitable conditions for the cultivation of the most important tropical ‘tree crops’ including Oil Palm, Natural Rubber, Coconuts, Cocoa and Bananas. Yet, with the exception of cocoa production, African production of these big tropical ‘tree crops’ is small relative to the output of the Asian producer nations: Indonesia & Malaysia in the case of palm oil, Thailand and Indonesia in respect of natural rubber, Indonesia and Philippines in respect of coconuts, and India, China and the Philippines in respect of banana production.
In all these segments, a distinguishing feature of African production is the bias towards production by the informal, smallholder sector. Within the smaller agro-industrial sector, the influence of European and Asian plantation companies is fundamental to the current structure of the industry, and it seems likely that the future shape of the sector will also be led by these companies. However, for investors, there are limited direct investment opportunities in businesses able to benefit from the growth in demand for African tropical ‘tree crops’. Those companies which have significant Africa based business operations, and which also have a stock market listing, are detailed herein.
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