Stakeholders in the oil palm sector have been urged to address key issues and longstanding questions that have been seen as hindrance, with admonishment that today is the most pleasant time to make all of the needed corrections that were not considered in the past.
Under the auspices of Solidaridad with support from the Netherlands, the National Interpretation (NI) Working Group commenced a workshop in Monrovia Thursday, 10 October with participants challenged to deliberate in the spirit of goodwill and in the interest of the country.
National Bureau of Concession (NBC) Director General Gregory Coleman says regardless of the fact that "we" may not have been the initial contributors to the world's problem of climate change today, yet "we" have equal responsibility as citizens of the planet to ensure that the mistakes made by others are not repeated here.
Though Mr. Coleman suggests that issues seen as hindrance are technically a form of commitment to the responsibility "that we have to this planet," he however stresses the need to address all questions relating to the the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) issues.
To have a clean value chain that will be respected from commodity to commodity, Mr. Coleman further recommends the need to ensure that there are principles put in place that are not just unique to oil palm, but the agriculture sector in general.
According to him, principles cannot just be built for the palm oil and the same principles cannot be respected when it comes to other commodities.
The NBC boss sees the gathering of stakeholders in the oil palm sector as a significant achievement, recalling how the sector initially began its expansion here in Liberia, taking into account a lot of things that were not considered at the time.
"And not because that it did not happen yesterday, means that it was right. This is the most pleasant time to make all of those corrections," Mr. Coleman says.
He asserts that the National Interpretation of the RSPO Principles' criteria for Liberia is very key because it answers most of the challenges that the palm oil sector has faced over the years.
Mr. Coleman asserts that it is key that "we ensure" these principles at the very initial drafting of whatever agreements that will see further expansion in the sector to ensure the value chain at all levels remains very clean and respects the rights of the people.
"I believe that if these things had been answered yesterday, we won't even be here but rather advancing the sector and prosperity that was expected to have been one of the key outcomes of this initiative - that is the expansion of the oil palm sector would have been well achieved," he says.
Mr. Coleman discloses that it is hoped that by the end of this year, the draft of the National Oil Palm Strategy would be completed to be a guiding document to the improvement of the sector.By extension, he says this document will be answering most of the challenges that will be faced throughout the country as it relates to agriculture.
In proxy of Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Managing Director Mr. C. Mike Doryen, FDA Environmental Specialist Chief KonikeyNimely says his entity places high priority in the national process."The FDA considers this initiative as a means of fulfilling our international commitment on sustainable oil palm development," he says.
Mr. Konikey pledges the FDA's fullest cooperation, expressing hope that the deliberations will be done in the spirit of goodwill and in the interest of the country.Deputy Agriculture Minister for Planning and Development Mr. Robert Fagans observes that other countries are making major efforts in the oil palm sector, given the importance of oil palm around the world.
National Oil Palm Platform of Liberia (NOPPOL) Coordinator Mr. Galah Toto describes the RSPO activity as a key milestone activity for NOPPOL which brings together multi - stakeholders from across the private sector, civil society, government institutions and development partners.According to Mr. Toto, it was agreed in a meeting attended by stakeholders including Golden Veroleum Liberia, Sime Darby and EPO, that Solidaridad should facilitate the process of the RSPO.