The Malaysian company Atama Plantation has launched a palm farming project in the Republic of Congo. Congolese President Denis Sassou N\'Guesso on Thursday took part in a ceremony to launch the project in the village of Yengo, 800 km north of the capital Brazzaville. Atama Plantation has 180,000 hectares of land provided by the government at the village for the project, which will be carried out in three phases. The of palm oil production is expected in 2017. The first phase runs from 2013 to 2014, involving the plantation of palm trees. Atama Plantation will also construct nine transformation units to produce oil for the Congolese as well as international market. The company\'s director general said it had set aside 30 million U.S. dollars for the purchase of necessary equipment and for the tarmacking of roads leading to the zones of activities. Since March, palm oil trees have been planted on some 400 hectares of land. The company has employed 240 Congolese workers and 89 expatriates. The Republic of Congo\'s Agriculture Minister Rigobert Maboundou said Congo had prioritized private investment, as \"this will concretize the government\'s desire to diversify the economy.\"