Oil-palm is one of the emerging sectors attracting investor attention to Liberia from around the globe. The country's oil palm market has seen an average annual growth of 5.9% in real terms since 2004, according to the National Investment Commission. Also, the sector is not only home to big concessionaires including Sime Darby, Golden Veroleum and Equatorial Palm Oil, but it is also home to smallholder-farmers, as well as value chain enterprises in palm oil and palm kernel products, owned and operated by Liberians. Yet, still, the sector's untapped business potential has cultivated a sustainable-systematic approach for full utilization.
Solidaridad West Africa is one of the actors encouraging sustainability in Liberia's young oil palm sector. The institution recently completed the training of fifteen community college graduates who will now serve as facilitators on the the organization's recently launched Sustainable West Africa oil-Palm (SWAP) program.
According to a release from Solidaridad, the newly trained graduates will serve in the extension capacity on the SWAP program. They will convey research knowledge on best management practices and technology to smallholder farmers, as well as SMEs, under the project's support framework.
Also, facilitators on SWAP program will work with selected youth groups who will be trained to provide Farm Management Services to smallholder farmers on a for-fee basis, and serve as aggregators for the SMEs, ensuring that Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFBs) are made available for the envisaged 1ton/hr mill under the project, Solidaridad explained.
Dedee Cooper, a participant, said the exercise covered several important topics that one needs to know before engaging in the task to support farmers who were struggling for technical knowledge.
Also, J. Cyrus Saygbe, Sr., Oil Palm Manager on the SWAP program, disclosed that the trained graduates will join Solidaridad's partners in the project counties including Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa, and Nimba.
Thirteen (13) young community college graduates were recently trained. Participants included six-females and seven males.
Solidaridad implements the SWAPP along with two other cocoa programs in Liberia. All programs focus on stimulating sustainable supply chains through innovations in product marketing, trade relations and landscape management.