LIBERIA- Solidaridad, an international civil society organization, 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 can process up to three tonnes of fresh fruit bunches per hour and will support the SMEs to scale up their processing activities and improve palm oil production in Liberia.
These mills were 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’s contribution to increasing the productivity, inclusivity, and sustainability of the West African palm oil sector has been quite significant.
The programme does so through micro, small, and medium enterprises that provide farm management and milling services.
Through SWAPP, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands funded the design, fabrication, and installation of the machinery and equipment and related operating and maintenance training for the four mills.
On the other hand, the beneficiary enterprises — Kpailama Agro Incorporated, Local Farm, Rainforest Agriculture Incorporated, and JEF Merchandise — provided the land, factory building, and related infrastructure.
Mills enhance value addition and food safety applications
According to the beneficiaries of the mills, smallholder farmers in Liberia’s quest to process their fresh fruit bunches into crude palm oil has been on the decline for years due to less efficient mills and unhygienic manually operated pits that require a lot of time and energy and pose safety challenges.
These new mills have solved most of these issues. For example, the mills have an oil extraction rate of about 14%, an improvement over existing artisanal mills with a rate of less than 9%.
Additionally, 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.
Moreover, according to Sylvester Kpai, Chief Executive Officer of Kpailama Agro, one of the beneficiary SMEs, 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 currently serve over 5,000 smallholders and out-growers in the counties where they are located, recording an 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,” Isaac Gyamfi, Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, said.
H.E. Jeroen Verheul, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, believes his government’s contribution has significantly impacted the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
“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.