Solidaridad, Netherlands Government Hand Over Oil Palm Mills to SMEs In Liberia

MONROVIA — Solidaridad, an international civil society organisation, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra have handed over four, efficient oil palm processing mills to four small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Grand Bassa, Lofa and Nimba counties in Liberia.

The mills, which have the capacity to process up to three tonnes of fresh fruit bunches per hour, are supporting the SMEs to scale up their processing activities, enhance farmers’ access to markets for oil palm fruit, and improve the production of palm oil in Liberia.

The mills were constructed as part of the interventions under the Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme (SWAPP) implemented by Solidaridad from 2018 to 2022 in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Ghana with funding from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra. The programme has contributed to increasing the productivity, inclusivity and sustainability of the West African palm oil sector through micro, small and medium enterprises that provide farm management and milling services.

The Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, through SWAPP, funded the design, fabrication and installation of the machinery and equipment and related operating and maintenance training. The beneficiary enterprises — Kpailama Agro Incorporated, Local Farm, Rainforest Agriculture Incorporated and JEF Merchandise — provided the land, factory building and related infrastructure.  

Boosting the oil palm sector by fulfilling an urgent need

For years, smallholder farmers in Liberia’s quest to process their fresh fruit bunches into crude palm oil have been on the decline due to less efficient mills and, sometimes, unhygienic pits that are operated manually and require a lot of time and energy, as well as pose safety challenges.

The four new mills have an oil extraction rate of about 14% which is an improvement over existing artisanal mills with a rate of less than 9%. They have provided over 200 direct jobs for residents of the communities where they operate, including youths and women, and more than 700 indirect jobs in the supply chain. 

Sylvester Kpai, Chief Executive Officer of Kpailama Agro, one of the beneficiary SMEs in the Lakker community in Nimba county, said the mill has enabled his company to process the first hygienic edible oil for sale in various markets.

“Most of our previous products were sold to customers who use the oil mainly for cosmetic products. Today, we are producing and packaging edible oil that ends up on dinner tables, in restaurants and on the market,” he said.

Collectively, the mills are currently serving over 5,000 smallholders and out-growers in the counties where they are located. The smallholders have recorded a sharp increase of more than two times in their production and income.

“We could not have attained the level of transformation in the livelihoods of these farmers and processors in Liberia if they had continued using the pits and manual machines we met when we began the intervention. I am glad that today, many lives have been positively impacted because of these installations. These mills have made processing a lot easier for the farmers and processors, increasing their productivity as well as income,” Isaac Gyamfi, Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, said.

The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, H.E. Jeroen Verheul, believes the contribution of his government has been significant in directly impacting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

“The Netherlands actively promotes trade and investment in West Africa. This goes beyond enabling Liberian smallholder farmers to produce and sell more of their products. Promoting local processing of raw materials in Liberia is one of the explicit objectives that has been achieved with the construction, handing over and operation of these oil mills. The Embassy looks back on strong collaboration with Solidaridad, the beneficiary enterprises and the Liberian authorities, enabling us to have achieved this significant result,” H.E Jeroen said.

About Solidaridad

Solidaridad is an international civil society organization with over fifty years of experience in developing solutions to make underprivileged communities more resilient. The organzation currently works in over 40 countries, on five continents, through eight independently supervised regional offices.

Its vision is an economy that works for all: a world in which all we produce, and all we consume can sustain us while respecting the planet, each other, and the next generations while its mission is to enable farmers and workers to earn a decent income, shape their own future, and produce in balance with nature by working throughout the supply chain to make sustainability the norm.

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