Palm oil in Africa:Bidco protestors, angst in East Africa about local oilseeds

Looking at recent news that relate to FDI projects for palm oil in West Africa:

29 Aug 2016: Bidco protestors, angst in East Africa about local oilseeds

Bidco fends off protestors over palm oil  August 28, 2016 -- Bidco, the Kenya-based vegetable oil producer and manufacturer of detergents and other household items, is not pleased by the protestors who turned up last week in London to highlight the company’s palm oil operations, specifically in neighbouring Uganda.  Bidco CEO Vimal Shah, said the people involved lacked credibility and there is no merit in their claims of exploitation.... The Bidco Truth Coalition (BTC) an activist alliance, last week picketed the London headquarters of  Barclays and Standard Chartered, who they claim are funding Bidco Africa’s deforestation to make way for palm oil production in places like Uganda writes SAMUEL NABWIISO..... The Coalition says the Banking Environment Initiative (BEI), based at Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership under the patronage of The Prince of Wales, is failing in its mission to lead the banking industry in collectively directing capital towards environmentally and socially sustainable economic development. BEI has nine member banks comprised of Barclays, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Lloyds, Northern Trust, RBS, Santander and Westpac.... Shah said in a statement last week, “These guys are just bodies for hire. If you watch the video, the incredible thing is they cannot even get the company name right. They are protesting against ‘Bisco’ and ‘Vamil Shah’, that tells you all you need to know about these people.”...

Uganda: Imports of Cheap Crude Palm Stifle Uganda's Oilseed Farming  5 April 2016 -- The Kazimingi area of Jinja, once designated as Uganda's industrial hub, is today a shell of rusty disused oil mills and crumbling buildings -- testimony to a bygone era, when smallholder farmers prospered by growing cotton and other oil seeds to feed the mills. Kazimingi is just one of the many ghost towns spread all over Uganda -- towns that were built around an oil seed industry that no longer exists. Since the early 1980s, Uganda has been struggling to revive its vegetable oil industry to satisfy both immediate consumer demand and revive a domestic value chain.... At least four big millers -- Mukwano, Bidco, Nile Agro and Tasco -- have set up big vegetable oil processing plants in the country. But while they have the capacity to convert locally produced oil seeds, the lure of cheap value addition from imported southeast Asian crude palm means local farmers are still in limited.... Independent policy analysts argue that of these three countries, two Uganda and Tanzania could save close to $500 million in foreign exchange annually if they substituted imports with locally produced oil seeds such as sunflower, soya, sesame and maize. This would also have a positive impact on the social status of communities because as much as 30 per cent of that value would be retained by producer communities, according to some estimates.... They further say that if duty were imposed on palm oil, which is currently zero-rated, and the farmers and manufacturers given incentives, East Africa could soon be growing its own oilseeds and developing a vertically integrated vegetable oil industry..... Under the current situation, much of the profits from the vegetable oil trade go to just two firms -- Wilmar (an associate of Bidco) and Louis Dreyfus Commodities. The two control bulk liquid storage for crude palm oil in Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports. Most of the unaffiliated oil millers buy their supplies of crude palm oil from these two firms, which both have palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia....

29 July 2016:  NGO calls on Liberia to prevent the export of tropical timber from plantation concessions

“Liberia’s Rainforests In Danger” 07/27/2016 By William Q. Harmon -- SDI says the country’s forests are under renewed threats from what it termed as Conversion Timber/Logging, which the government is on the verge of introducing – and has the potential to destroy the country’s remaining rain forests....At a ceremony over the weekend where the SDI presented a petition to government, SDI disclosed that the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has developed regulations that would enable large-scale timber extraction in agricultural concession areas for export. SDI believes this will further exacerbate the threats from the oil palm sector...At present, commercial logging and timber export are banned. Were government to permit the sale of timber from the legal clearing of forests for oil palm concessions, this would simplify the laundering of illegal timber and drastically increase the pressure on the country’s forests.... However, SDI has been joined by 50 international holders of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize calling on the government to prevent the export of tropical timber from plantation concessions....

The effect of the Brass oil war on the creation of Nigeria Omotayo Yusuf 5 days ago -- In this retro series, looks back at the significant period in history when the area that would later become Nigeria was sold to Britain for £865,000. The second industrial revolution which put Britain at the forefront of technological development necessitated a huge demand for palm oil which was necessary to power industrial machines. The Niger Delta region was the world’s leading producer of this much south-after oil. Read more:

27 July 2016: Sime Darby responds to article on "ultimatum: from 15 townships

LIBERIA: Sime Darby’s Response to The Inquirer’s Article  July 26, 2016 Cholo Brooks -- Monrovia, 26 July 2016 – In reference to the article published in The Inquirer on July 25th headlined “Sime Darby Given 14 days Ultimatum” , Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL) would like to inform all our stakeholders who have been assisting  us and the communities in this matter , that SDPL has received a letter from the communities  that is in substance the source of the story published in The Inquirer . The letter was signed by Eshmeal H. Pusah, Sr . and Jefferson V . Paasewe, claiming to be, respectively,  new Secretary and new Chairman of the Project Affected Community . The letter was also signed by 65 residents of the 15 townships which are part of the 17 project affected communities (P AC). SDPL takes seriously the concerns raised by the community , and that is why SDPL established the independent multi-stakeholder crop compensation investigation on process that would review the evidence and make recommendations on how best to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, SDPL seeks to set the record straight.....

Search for "Sime Darby" in The Inquirer:
Ellen Ends Deadlock In Grand Cape Mount County...Maintains Sime Darby Must Be Allowed To Operate So 
Operations Continue At Sime Darby But... Breakthrough In Sime Darby Discussions Bopolu Citizens Present Statement On Sime Darby's Operations Sime Darby Scholarship Students Hit High Employees Praise Sime Darby School System Sime Darby: Changing Lives From Poverty To Prosperity: How The Malaysian Oil Palm Giant Is Making I Sime Darby Promises "Best Practices" Sime Darby Denies Awarding Green Advocates Contract Sime Darby Gives US$420,000 Scholarships Turning A Strong Foe Into A Friend...Sime Darby Gives Rice To The Elderly And Disabled In Grand Cape Sime Darby, Workers Union Reach Agreement Sime Darby, Local And International Partners Launch Sustainable Partnership Initiative As a Palm Oil Sime Darby To Put Over 600 Employees Down    
source:, acccessed 4pm 27 July 2016

25 July 2016: News update

Sierra Leone News:Ned Oil Exports Over 20 Containers of Palm Oil to Europe 22 July 2016 - Ned Oil a Dutch company engaged in palm oil investment in Yele has exported over 20 containers of palm oil and the company will export more by the end of the year, Abubakarr Daramy, head of public relations in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security said in an interview. The company hopes to reach full capacity by 2020. Each container is twenty feet long.

Norway Is The First Country To Ban Deforestation, Brazil, Liberia, And Indonesia To Follow. July 18, 2016 by Cholo Brooks Africa

17 July 2016: Liberia land rights bill, GVL says no permit to allow logging from concession area, 

Editor's note: On logging and concessions, also Refer to 7 July 2016 posting,

Liberia must pass land rights bill or risk jeopardising peace, campaigners warn - Civil society groups want 2014 bill passed before August recess, claiming land grabs have ‘turned citizens into refugees in their own country’ by Ruth Maclean in Dakar 14 July 2016 -- Over the past few decades, according to the Sustainable Development Institute, land grabs have “turned citizens into refugees in their own country”.... Three senior politicians, including the chairman of the ruling party, were recently arrested and charged with “economic crimes” after an investigation by the campaigning group Global Witness.. The president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has spoken of her support for the act. For decades, however, the government has granted logging, mining, and agriculture concessions over about 40% of the country, ignoring the communities living there.... “Land grabs in Liberia have effectively turned citizens into refugees in their own country,” said Ali Kaba, of the Sustainable Development Institute. “We cannot continue on in a state where people’s homes and farms can be sold out from under them without their knowledge or consent, and where those who resist face violence.”

LIBERIA: GVL Strongly Rejects SDI’s Erroneous Assertion July 11, 2016 by  Cholo Brooks Blog -- It has repeatedly asked the FDA and SDI for guidance on what is legally permissible in order to help the community maximum value from its land. Based on feedback from the FDA following our request for clarity, GVL has advised the community that they will not be able to extract timber for their own business purposes.GVL wishes to reiterate that it has been open and transparent from the outset in this matter and has fully complied with the advice and requests it has received from FDA throughout. GVL has never sought to sell timber for commercial purposes, either in Liberia or for export, and has complied at all times with its own No Deforestation policy commitments’...

Liberia: GVL Rejects Media Report 12 JULY 2016 Golden Veroleum Liberia strongly rejects the suggestion that it had applied for "a permit to allow logging for export in its Concession Area" as suggested in the Front Page Africa article of 11 July 2016 titled "Liberia's Forest in Danger - International conservationists Alarm"...

Nigeria Spends $11B On Food Import Despite Immense Agricultural Potential By Kevin Mwanza Published: July 15, 2016

Forest conservation can offset emissions from palm oil expansion in Africa: Study 13 July 2016 / Mike Gaworecki - A new paper published in the journal Conservation Letters suggests that if the governments of tropical African countries were to enact mandatory policies regulating which forests can be cleared and how much remaining forest must be set aside for conservation, they could largely offset the emissions created by converting the land to palm oil plantations. The Conservation Letters paper summarizes the results of a case study focused on an oil palm operation in Gabon. “Clearing just 11,500 hectares of forest — or roughly 28,400 acres — would release about 1.5 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere,” John R. Poulsen of Duke University, an author of the study, said. “That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of some small developing countries.” Poulsen and his colleagues found that the emissions from the plantation, jointly developed by the Gabonese government and agribusiness firm Olam International, could be completely offset within 25 years if oil palm development is centered on forests with lower carbon stocks and if every development set aside a portion of forest for conservation....

Olam To Divest Timber Assets In Gabon For US$18.0 Million, Singapore, January 24, 2014 -- entered into an agreement with a consortium of Chinese investors to sell part of its forestry and saw milling assets in Gabon for a gross consideration of US$18.0 million.... The divestment, which is a part of Olam’s revised strategy to restructure the Wood Products portfolio, includes the sale of two saw mills in the Makokou region of Gabon, 2.5 hectares of land in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Nkok, Gabon and associated forestry concessions. - See more at: (note: search of company website does not indicate any further divestment of Gabon timber business)

11 July 2016: FDA 'It's now safe to consume palm oil in Ghana,' European Union ban extended by three years on pesticide residues in Nigeria produce

FDA 'It's now safe to consume palm oil in Ghana' According to the authority, a market survey it conducted in 10 markets in the Greater Accra Region last November showed that 90 per cent of palm oil products in those markets were free from the Sudan IV dye, the textile dye which causes cancer.

Nigeria’s Toxic Trade Policy Jun 26, 2016 in Business | By Ayinde Alaba Nigeria does not appear to be learning any lesson from the counsel of this American writer and philosopher. Otherwise, as we continue to writhe under the European Union ban on our “diseased” beans, we would not be offering an open door trade policy to similarly “ailing” food items from outside our shores. Last year the EU outlawed the export of beans from Nigeria, along with other consumable products like dried fish, melon seeds, palm oil, and meat because, according to the Europeans, they “contained a high level of unauthorised pesticide”.... Now, the European authorities’ move sought to save lives, which is the primary responsibility of any well-meaning government. Their research revealed that the beans that found their way to Europe “had between 0.03mg/kg to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos pesticide when the acceptable maximum residue limit is 0.01mg/kg.” This is considered dangerous to human health. Tha ban on our beans was to be lifted in June 2016. But it has been extended by three years. The official journal of the EU said the new sanction came into force because Nigeria is “not doing enough” to address the pesticide content in our beans. So EU had to give Nigeria time to “implement the appropriate risk-management and provide required guarantees.”...

The Liberian Dream LETTERS & COMMENTS 1 week ago -- I have a Liberian dream that the nooks and corners of this Country will be filled with economic opportunities and lift millions of Liberians out of poverty. I have a Liberian dream, that descendants of white slave masters, African Americans and their Liberian/African counterparts will create many business and economic opportunities for the mutual benefits of a prosperous Nation. I have a Liberian dream, that natural God’s gifted resources of this nation will no longer be used as weapons against its citizens, but as Gifts from God and for the people of God. I have a dream that finished rubber products and palm oil products will be produced in Liberia and exported to the world. I have a Liberia dream that Buchanan will become a port city and the port of Buchanan will be the busiest port on the West Coast of Africa and serve as the epicenter for transshipment. John Y. Brownell

Activists from Indonesia, Liberia, Colombia and Peru to EU tells of palm Horror June 24, 2016 -- A delegation of indigenous people from Indonesia, Liberia, Colombia and Peru did a tour of European capitals last month to give policymakers and investors first-hand testimony of what they said were escalating human rights and environmental abuses linked to the rapid spread of palm oil cultivation. The delegation, which visited the Netherlands, Germany, Brussels and London during the 10-day tour, said that members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) frequently flout the voluntary group’s requirement to respect community land rights, and are involved in human rights abuses and destructive plantation development. At a press conference in London, Tom Griffiths of UK NGO Forest Peoples Programme, which sponsored the tour, said while the RSPO is beginning to crack down on malpractice by its members, it has a long way to go before all RSPO members’ palm oil is conflict-free. “The key message of the mission is that these [palm oil] operations should be suspended until land rights are secured and proper protections are in place,” he said....

News review for early 2016

Nigeria's forex policy a boon for palm oil industry by CNBC Africa Reporter  Last Updated: Wed, 08 Jun 2016 -- “Sometime in 2015 amid the crude oil earnings and the consequence impact on our reserves, one of the FX policies introduced by the CBN was to exclude some 41 items from the official window, palm oil made that list." “What this means is that importers will have to source FX from autonomous sources - you would expect the overall cost of importation to tipper in both volumes going forward. CBN policies on the FX have impacted these imports and will likely continue to impact it going forward,” said Ramon. In Nigeria, palm oil is a basic food and has several uses besides cooking, says Ramon so the demand is quite high.  "Before now there was no major incentive for local producers given that the price of imported palm oil product is more competitive, however we think that the industry is currently taking a new shape that might incentivise the local producers." He adds: "Going forward the importation of palm oil might be challenging so we think this could cut supply and push up prices and once this happens you will expect the local production to tap into the opportunity....

Mapping Ebola, A new method for tracking the virus could help prevent outbreaks. CATRIONA CROFT-CUSWORTH 7 Jun 2016

Ebola virus hotspots across Africa revealed: New study  5 JUN 2016

Malaysia – Africa’s Silent Partner - One of Southeast Asia’s largest economies is quietly engaged across Africa. By Tim Steinecke May 30, 2016

Abuse of import duty waivers By Daily Trust | Jun 1 2016  -- The Senate Ad hoc Committee on Import Duty Waivers, Concessions and Grants headed by Senator Mohamed Adamu Aliero said last week alleged fraud in the administration of import duty waivers on rice, sugar, other foods items and automobiles by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government. The ad hoc committee’s report said it uncovered fraud worth N447.42 billion involving frontline companies such as Dangote Limited, Kersuk Farms, Bua Group, Elephant Group, Milan Group and Golden Penny between 2011 and 2015. The government agencies involved are Ministry of Finance, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NPC), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Federal Inland Revenue Service.....  Granting import waivers is not fraud in itself. The Customs and Excise Management Act provides that some imported goods could be granted duty exemptions if they are meant to boost local manufacturing of goods for export. In this regard, agricultural implements, materials for textiles and automobile industries are usually exempted from duty. The reason is mainly to protect local industries because imported finished goods may be cheaper and of higher quality than locally-produced goods. If duty is not imposed, imported finished goods could displace local products in the market. For instance, the palm oil industry in Nigeria is now being threatened by duty-free imports of palm oil from Malaysia. In 2011, government granted waiver worth N150 billion to 10 firms to import refined palm oil. This is not healthy for the local palm oil industry....

A new generation of forest managers in the Democratic Republic of Congo - A university on the banks of the Congo River is producing the next generation of experts on sustainable forestry.  Fai Collins 29 May 2016

GVL donates crude palm oil to host communities in Sinoe 24 May 2016

Liberia: Soros Connection - Why Global Witness Report Won't Go Away -- By Rodney D. Sieh Monrovia — George Soros is widely known as the hedge fund tycoon and renowned philanthropist. His philanthropic work has been instrumental to Liberia where since the ascendance to office of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the country has benefited from millions in various humanitarian areas... His son, Alexander, is the founder of The Alexander Soros Foundation, an organization promoting civil rights, social justice and education. The younger Soros who visited Liberia sits on the board Global Witness, which exposes and breaks the links between natural resources, conflict and corruption; and the Open Society Foundations, the New York City-based group founded by his dad who works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies. While both organizations receive strong financial support from the Soros Foundation, it is the former that has been in the thick of exposing lapses in Liberia's governance, since it started in 1993 and dubbed by many as Soros' anti-corruption campaigner group....

Liberia: GVL Repudiates Erroneous Allegations of Child Labour 25 May 2016 -- press release. Monrovia — Golden Veroleum Liberia strongly rejects allegations of child labor by the company as contained in recent news report published by Daily Observer Newspaper title "Advocate Demands Justice for Children" and the New Dawn Newspaper report titled "Liberian Children Alarm Danger" published on 25 and 18 May 2016. GVL policies are clear; we don't hire children at all. GVL makes similar requirement of its subcontractor and suppliers, and works to monitor their workforces.

Sime Darby denies employment of children  May 23, 2016 Cholo Brooks Blog -- In reference to an article in The New Dawn titled “Liberian Children Alarm Danger” published on 18 May, Sime Darby Plantation (Liberia) Inc. (SDPL) denies the allegation that the company employs children in its operations. SDPL does not employ any children in Liberia or anywhere else and it respects and abides by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Liberian Law. Our workers’ union, General Agriculture and Allied Workers Union of Liberia (GAAWUL) through the signed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), ensures that there are no children employed with our company.

The vegetable oil that fuels a $50 billion business By Katie Pisa, for CNN May 26, 2016 -- So what's the problem in Africa? Palm oil producers have turned their eyes to Africa as their next growth spot. The plant is native to Liberia, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Benin and Democratic Republic of the Congo, but Nigeria is by far Africa's largest producer of palm oil, and fifth largest in the world in 2015. It already has 2.5 million hectares of land used for the production of the oil. Liberia, where the palm is an indigenous crop and widely used for cooking, has few restrictions on land and a government keen to sign contracts, making it an ideal place for companies looking for growth according to Ali Kaba, the Liberian program coordinator for the Sustainable Development Institute....."Palm oil is not the problem. The problem is human rights' violations," he said, speaking at a press conference in London in May. According to Kaba, the problem stems from the government signing over land to companies, displacing local people off the land they have always lived on and farmed. "People are losing access to their farmland," said Kaba. Food insecurity and pollution have gone up, and families have been massively displaced in their daily life. "A woman used to take 30 minutes to fetch water (for her family). Now, it takes 2 hours," he explained, as villagers have lost their usual resources as a result of companies clearing land. Liberia currently has 17,000 hectares planted with palm oil, and another 700,000 set aside for further production. While this is a small number in comparison to many countries, a handful of multinational companies have set up operations in the country. It's the lack of regulation of these companies that Kaba, and people in other African countries, are worried about. A great deal of land in many African countries is owned by the government, leaving people living on it with little or no rights to it once the large companies are involved.

Equatorial Palm Oil widens H1 pretax loss By StockMarketWire | Mon, 16th May 2016 -- "The commitment by LPD to begin construction of the new 60 mt/hr mill at Palm Bay Estate confirms the Directors' views that Liberia can be a significant producer of crude palm oil in years to come.....  EPO fully engaged with High Carbon Stock ("HCS") assessment and committed to establish clear parameters, alongside stakeholders, for the development of new plantations..  MOU signed with villages on Palm Bay Estate delineating clear boundaries for development of oil palm and adhering to free, prior and informed consent, post period. 

Equatorial Palm Oil Reports Wider Interim Loss During First Half 16th May 2016

Tomco Energy assessing West African palm oil venture 19 May 2016 -- Tomco says the palm oil opportunity has low capex costs and potential for cash flows starting in mid-2017.

Indigenous leaders from three continents are touring Europe begging people to boycott palm oil by Cassie Werber May 07, 2016

Liberia, 3 Others Oppose Human Rights Violation In ‘Conflict Palm Oil Trade’ 05/06/2016 tjohnson

French President Hollande's Palm Oil Tax is an Attack on Africans -- French Senate Shows Solidarity With Africans, By Rejecting Government Palm Oil Tax LAGOS, Nigeria, May 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, IMANI Center for Policy and Education, sub-Saharan Africa's second most influential think tank, and the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA), the leading Nigerian think-tank, call on the French Government to withdraw its planned palm oil tax, due to the major negative impact on African farmers and communities.

IPPA: French Government Shows Callous Disregard for Global South Time for Hollande to Support Africa and Abandon His Palm Oil Tax LAGOS, Nigeria, May 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) – the Nigeria-based public policy think tank, issued a statement condemning the French Government's planned palm oil tax.

Land rights at root of palm oil conflict in Liberia, campaigners say BY MATTHEW PONSFORD  May 6, 2016

PZ Cussons calls for global suppliers to set up in Nigeria May 4, 2016 by  Georgina Caldwell

Equatorial Palm Oil signs MOU with Liberian communities Josh White | Sharecast | 05 May, 2016

Palm oil in Cameroon – ‘a blessing or a curse’ to small-scale farmers? 29 April 2016 / John C. Cannon As palm oil expands in Africa, researchers say more smallholders should be brought into the fold.

The new name behind the threat to Cameroon’s Forests, Feature story - May 6, 2016 -- After the slowdown of the destructive Herakles Farms palm oil project in Cameroon, following extensive environmental and social opposition, we had hope for the future. However, it now looks like the infamous operation is being resurrected under a new identity, with ambitions to to destroy vast areas of forest and local community land. Since 2013, Greenpeace and other local and international organizations have been sounding the alarm over the Herakles Farms palm oil project in Cameroon’s Southwest Region While nobody was looking, Herakles Farms appears to have sold its palm oil project to new investors.  Reports from local workers and villagers pinpoint this transition to the summer of 2015, however according to company filings, it was not until November that a British man, Jonathan Johnson Watts, was named the new Chairman and General Manager of the SGSOC plantation. Jonathan Johnson Watts is no stranger to taking over struggling palm oil projects.  Watts was also involved in the purchase of a struggling palm oil project in Ghana, which as it turns out, was also sold to him by its previous owner, Herakles Farms a few years ago. The Volta Red plantation, as it is now know, is growing and palm oil production has begun....

Unprecedented deforestation in old Herakles plantation, now under new management 6 May 2016 / John C. Cannon -- After a spate of inactivity, a palm oil plantation in western Cameroon has come back to life.

Golden Veroleum Dedicates Mini Oil Palm Mill in Sinoe County --  It is a joy for us to celebrate with the government and our partner communities as we dedicate our mill,” said Rothschild. The GVL Director says a similar project will be replicated in Grand Kru, stating that today is the mini mill; in 2017 GVL will be commissioning its main mill, which is 15 times larger than the mini mill and is currently under construction in Tarjuowon, Sinoe County. ...Rothschild concluded by saying that the mini mill was constructed after Vice PresidentJoseph Boakai visited Indonesia and appealed for it, with the goal of not letting the palm spoil...

UNMIL Drawdown: Bassa Residents, Police Sweat Over Low Support

11 Sime Darby Protestors Charged With Criminal Facilitation April 22, 2016 Cholo Brooks Liberia

Nigeria: The Lie Told Against Palm Oil By the West 7 APRIL 2016

Equatorial Palm Oil Starts To Bear Fruit As It Plans On Building Mill  13th Apr 2016

An agribusiness revolution is needed to save Africa’s last great apes 12 April 2016 / William H. Funk -- Global industrial agriculture is ramping up in Africa — and when combined with grinding poverty and corrupt elites — it spells great risk for gorillas, chimps and bonobos

President Koroma Commissions The Largest Oil Mill In West Africa Built In Sahn Malen, Pujehun District By Socfin Agricultural Company April 13, 2016 5:11 pm, Posted by Amadu Daramy -- President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on Saturday 9th April formally commissioned the largest palm oil production mill built by Socfin Agricultural Company in Sahn Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District....the Socfin palm oil farm is not just the largest in the country, but also in West Africa, and that the company has invested over US$130 Million, planting 12, 319 hectre of hybrid oil palm trees and building a mill currently with a 30t/hr of Fresh Fruit Bunch capacity and with capacity to increase to 60t/hr.... company has employed over 2,460 seasonal workers to support plantation operations plus 1,091 permanent workers all totaling 3,551 workers, and most of these workers he said are from the surrounding communities within the company’s operational areas....

Sime Darby Destruction Scare Investors, As Local Authorities Call On Gov’t To Remove Illegal Squatters April 12, 2016 Cholo Brooks Liberia -- Recent action on the part of some residents of Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties to  burn down major parts of the Sime Darby Plantation in the area destroying several parts of the plantation on an report that a lady was missing from the hospital of the company is reportedly scaring investors. For their part, local authorities of Bomi County told reporters on Monday   that the arson attack on Sime Darby Plantation is a threat to the economy and the investment climate as a whole.

Margarine producer fined R35m for anticompetitive behaviour BY FIFI PETERS ,  14 APRIL 2016 -- ON top of the R35m fine margarine producer Sime Darby Hudson Knight has to pay for anticompetitive behaviour, the company may also face being monitored to ensure that it complies with further remedial action handed down to it for contravening the competition act.... Sime Darby Hudson Knight makes and sells bakery fats and frying oils. In 2014, the Competition Commission raided its Boksburg offices as well as those of Durban-based Unilever during its investigations into restrictive price behaviour in the industry. It found that Sime Darby Hudson Knight had entered into an agreement that precluded it from supplying certain pack sizes of edible fats and oils to a number of customer channels. The agreement meant that it could not supply retail outlets, and other areas where Unilever was active.... As part of the Commission’s remedial action, which includes the R35m fine, Sime Darby Hudson Knight agreed to supply the retail sector with its products and to build a new warehousing facility to accommodate this..... 

We Did Not Ban Export Of Nigeria’s Agric Products – EU Kingsley Alu — Apr 25, 2016 -- While admitting that although it was true that there were a number of food products (such as melon seeds, dried meat, palm oil) imported from Nigeria that were sometimes rejected at the EU border because they were found to contain dangerous substances for human health, Amato said the import suspension measure adopted by the EU only concerned dried beans. “The reason for the import suspension measure of dried beans is that since January 2013 more than 50 rejections have been recorded at the EU border in relation to this product originating from Nigeria, nearly all of them reporting the presence of the unauthorised pesticide dichlorvos at levels largely exceeding the acute reference dose tentatively established by the European Food Safety Authority,” he explained.

17 Feb 2016: News review in progress - Nigeria worries about forex allocaiton, Sierra Leone land rights dispute case

Nigeria - Govt urged to restrict forex allocation to essentials Posted By: Muyiwa Lucason: February 08, 2016;.... With a dwindling foreign reserve, the Federal Government has been advised to restrict the sale of foreign exchange (forex) to only importation of very essential commodities, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Cocoa Association of Nigeria, and President, Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN), Dr Victor Iyama, has said. According to Iyama, this will enable the government to better manage the nation’s revenue, as well as checkmate frivolous importation of items that are of little or no value to the economy....Why should any responsible government give you foreign exchange from her little to import palm oil,” he said. He urged Nigerians to take measures to save the economy from collapse. He said government needs to take drastic action to restore the nation’s economic and financial independence. This, he said, should come in the form of rebuilding the nation’s industries...

Sierra Leone convicts six of destroying palm oil trees in land rights dispute Source: Reuters - Fri, 5 Feb 2016; By Umaru Fofana BO, Sierra Leone, Feb 4 (Reuters) - A Sierra Leone court has convicted six people opposed to a palm oil project in which French conglomerate Bollore owns a major stake of destroying trees and inciting the local population to protest over land rights. In a ruling on Thursday, the court in the town of Bo found that the defendants, who include a former lawmaker and are members of a local landowners association, destroyed 40 palm oil trees belonging to Socfin in the Pujehun District. An official with Luxemburg-based Socfin said thousands of trees had been damaged during the 2013 incident, but he did not provide a precise figure..... A growing number of African land lease deals for mining and agribusiness have provoked tensions for allegedly depriving often poor countries of the means to feed their own populations. The six defendants, who received sentences ranging from five to six months in prison in addition to fines, were involved in organising protests against what they claimed were unduly low fees paid by Socfin for the land it used....

19 December 2015: Nigeria’s future depends on agriculture, Golden Veroleum Liberia new mill

Nigeria’s future depends on agriculture –Nkem-Abonta Posted By: GEORGE OPARAon: December 15, 2015 Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta is a PDP member representing Ukwa East and Ukwa West Federal Constituency of Abia State. Currently, he is sponsoring a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of the Chartered Institute of Export and Commodity Brokers of Nigeria that has just passed second reading. In this interview, he spoke with GEORGE OPARA on the objectives and merits of the bill and other political matters. Excerpts

NEPC proposes increased investment in palm oil, other agricultural produce, to diversify economy; Following dwindling crude oil price and its negative effect on Nigeria’s economy, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), an agency of Government saddled with the responsibility of promoting non-oil export, has canvassed for increased investment in agriculture, especially palm oil production, to diversify the country’s economy. Olusegun Awolowo, executive director/chief executive officer, NEPC, who made…

Liberian palm plantation plans expansion - Golden Veroleum Liberia is investing $30 million in a new mill, expected to increase employment in rural southeast 16.12.2015

13 December 2015: Sime Darby and other giants go HCS, GVL prepares for processing, how to seafood palm nut soup

Sime Darby to test oil palm production scheme Published: 11 December 2015 5:04 PM Major oil palm growers, including Sime Darby Bhd will conduct trials of a sustainable cultivation scheme under the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto - See more at:

GVL prepares for processing 08 December 2015

Uganda: Oil Palm Prices Fall By 50 Per Cent 9 December 2015; Bidco Uganda managing director Kodey Rao during an interview with Daily Monitor in Jinja. A metric tonne of oil palm, which was at $606 (Shs 2.03m), is now at $391 (Shs1.3m). He was quoting the monthly palm oil currency in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where price for Ugandan oil palm is derived....

Nigerian import curbs hit SA groups by Zeenat Moorad, November 23 2015... The bank imposed import restrictions in June to preserve the value of the naira, protect foreign exchange reserves and limit demand for dollars. "Trading in Nigeria was initially strong, but slowed appreciably in the last two months due to recently imposed restrictions on imported merchandise.. In a bid to prevent naira devaluation and encourage domestic manufacturing, Nigeria’s central bank governor Godwin Emefiele has drawn the ire of foreign investors for restricting the importation of various items including eggs, margarine and palm oil, among others. In a statement, the central bank said it had become imperative to exclude importers of some goods and services from accessing foreign exchange in order to encourage the domestic production of these items.

President: Nigeria Cannot Sustain N1tn Spending on Food Imports 18 Nov 2015...  The president, who spoke at the launch of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and the commencement of dry season farming, said that the falling oil prices had left Nigeria with no option than to diversify. The president recalled that agriculture was the mainstay of the nation’s economy but was abandoned following the discovery of oil...

How to make Abak Mbakara (Seafood palm nut soup) - Highly nutritious and tasty, this soup is native to the Niger Delta region in South South Nigeria. 25.11.2015  by Onnaedo Okafor

Cameroonian environmental activist pursued in the courts as palm oil company interferes in legal process Press release - November 18, 2015  Yaoundé November 17 2015 - An internationally-renowned environmental human rights defender continues to be pursued in the courts in Cameroon for no crime other than defending his own community’s land rights. Meanwhile the very company he is peacefully protesting against is seeking favourable treatment from the state for its own lawsuits, according to new evidence obtained by Greenpeace Africa and the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)...

Herakles Farms project rears its ugly head again  Blogpost by Amy Moas and Eric Ini - November 18, 2015 at 8:00 Add comment  By Amy Moas and Eric Ini Herakles Farms project rears its ugly head again  Blogpost by Amy Moas and Eric Ini - November 18, 2015 By Amy Moas and Eric Ini

Nigeria: Glimpses of Old Calabar 4 November 2015; By Chineme Okafor
Chineme Okafor, in a recent hike around Henshaw Town, Duke Town and the waterfront areas of the old districts of Calabar, caught glimpses of features that bring to mind the socio-economic prosperity that Old Calabar enjoyed
Everything including culture, architecture and self-admiration still reside with the older parts of Calabar, a former administrative capital of the southern protectorate of Nigeria, to give it an immortal air of glory. Standing on what was once an esteemed territory, just meters away from the shorelines of the ever-furious Atlantic, is the celebrated city of Old Calabar, an old municipality with a magnificent landscape.... It was in this old city that one of the most vibrant marinas and international sea ports in the West Africa area once stood and a successful merchant colony that traded in what was then regarded as the 'red gold' (palm oil), and other goods of economic importance evolved. Old Calabar from anecdotal accounts, did not only build a reputation in oil palm merchandising, it also provided the gateway for shipping of slaves from the hinterlands of the Igbo nation to the outer world as it was randomly estimated that about 30 per cent of the 2.5 million slaves that were shipped off from the west coast were processed through the slave ports in Duke Town. ... As a coastal city, the waters of Old Calabar were once the busiest and vital trading routes on Africa's west coast and by extension, in the world. Accounts of how the Calabar marina became more illustrious from the reliance of the allied forces of the Second World War on its palm oil which was used as industrial oil for military equipment, have equally added to confirm the earlier glory and tremendous fortunes of Old Calabar.... .....

Implications of CBN’s forex restrictions on CPO October 18, 2015; The consumption of palm oil in Nigeria amounts to 1.0 million MT per annum. 90.0% of palm oil is consumed by food industry and the remaining 10.0% is used by the non-food industry. Foods like noodles, vegetable oil, biscuits, chips, margarines, shortenings, cereals, baked stuff, washing detergents and even cosmetics thrive on palm oil. Noodle industry alone consumes 72,000 MT of imported palm oil and the leading, domestic palm oil producers fail to meet this demand.... Saddened by unavailability of sufficient oil palm in the Nigerian market, some industries have proactively announced strategic alliances to invest in oil palm plantations. Large estate in the palm oil plantations and output in Nigeria, which is the only category producing palm oil used by the food industry  produced 80,000tons annually, which is only 10% of local production and the overall domestic oil production was 1.35mn tones, the consumption demand was 2.25mn tones resulting in a shortfall of 900,000 tones.

EU Ban of Some Nigerian Foods Worry Stakeholders Posted by :bworld Posted date : October 28, 2015; Following the recent suspension of some agricultural food exports from Nigeria to European Union countries till June 2016, the development has since been eliciting some level of concern to stakeholders. Some of the food items so affected are beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish and meat, peanut chips and palm oil...Although the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS led by Mr. Filippo Amato, head of Trade and Economic Section of the EU sometime in September, was quoted to have refuted the reports, but he however, noted that the import suspension measure, which he said had been misconstrued, affected only dried beans; but that some other agricultural products had occasionally been rejected at the EU borders due to high level of pesticides which is dangerous for human health.

FDA’s alert on palm oil is sweeping and panicky by Columnist: Franklin Cudjoe 27 October 2015; The story published on October 26, 2015 stated in part “The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) is warning against the consumption of palm oil sold on the market across the country.  The Authority has currently heightened its market surveillance after discovering oil samples picked from ten markets in the Greater Accra Region contained highly dangerous textile dye which causes cancer. The FDA in a statement said it randomly sampled 50 palm oil.” It continued “The results showed that 98% of the palm oil tested positive to Sudan IV dye. Following up, the FDA on Tuesday, 20th October, 2015 in collaboration with the Narcotics Division of the Ghana Police Service apprehended some dealers suspected to be involved in this practice and confiscated the products, which were also analysed and found to contain Sudan III and Sudan IV dyes, leading to the arrest of 22 market women and a driver.”

Uganda's 40-Year Oil Palm Journey by The Monitor (Kampala) 24 October 2015; By Emmanuel Mukanga The year was 1972. I had joined Makerere University, Kampala as a teenager and Frank Kalimuzo, the first vice chancellor, was to disappear and never to be seen again. That was the year the late John Akii Bua brought home the 400 metres hurdles' gold medal with a new Olympic record..... General Idi Amin was president of Uganda and had not yet declared himself Conqueror of the British Empire. In that year, he was busy wading off an invasion by Ugandan exiles from Tanzania and taking time off to snooze in Moroto District and dream up divine instructions to expel the Ugandan Asian community within 90 days beginning in August.... In that same year, a team of young scientists from Kawanda Agricultural Research Station were preparing to set off and set up oil palm research trials in Bundibugyo, Kalangala, Kituuza and Nakabango in Busoga. Their findings laid the foundation for oil palm development in Uganda, which has turned around Kalangala District from among the poorest to a major magnet for investment today....This team was led by a 35-year-old plant pathologist and administrator - Sebastian Matovu, who was in charge of the coffee research unit that carried out research on coffee, cocoa and oil palm...

The Palm Oil You Want to Eat - Ruddy 'dendê' is a far cry from the grease found in so many processed foods. Oct 21, 2015.... First off, the red palm oil (aka dendê) you see in West African markets, health food stores, and some supermarkets, like industrial palm oil, is derived from the fibrous mesocarp of the fruit of the African oil palm. (Mesocarp? Quick—check out last week’s anatomy-of-a-palm lesson. Then come right back.) But red palm oil is less processed—either refined at lower temperatures or not heated at all during processing—so it retains its great abundance of carotenoids, including alpha carotene and beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A and which give the oil its beautiful orange-red color. Red palm oil is also rich in tocopherols, the most potent natural source of vitamin E.... Like any tropical oil, it also contains a hefty amount of saturated fats. “Fully half of palm oil is composed of saturated fats, as is 86 percent of the oil from the kernel of that palm fruit and 92 percent of coconut oil,” Nina Teicholz writes in The Big Fat Surprise. Those numbers were scary to a public that had long been assured of saturated fat’s dangers, she adds, and starting in the late 1980s, food companies responded by replacing the palm oil in processed foods with—you guessed it—trans fats, mostly in the form of partially hydrogenated soybean oil. A leaflet distributed by the American Soybean Council boasted the title “What You Don’t Know About Tropical Fats Can Kill You!” and an image of a lighted fuse attached to the top of a coconut..... ... . Establishing cause and effect when it comes to a single ingredient is notoriously difficult, and Teicholz’s chapters on the tropical oils war, trans fats, and how the food police identifies a dietary villain, data be damned—then gins up the populace and, inevitably, governmental regulators—make for fascinating, if troubling, reading. For example, a year after Harvard epidemiologist Walter Willett published an opinion piece stating that trans fats were causing an astonishing 30,000 American deaths a year from heart disease, two large observational studies conducted in Europe showed no relationship between trans fats and rates of heart attacks or sudden cardiac death. “Far more than the public realizes, Willett was out on a limb with his data,” Teicholz wrote.... ... But the effect of trans fats in Willett’s study was small, not even a twofold increase in risk. ... And I’m returning red palm oil, albeit a sustainably sourced one, to my pantry shelf. I was first introduced to the stuff by Jessica B. Harris, the authority on the food and foodways of the African diaspora, and was captivated by dendê’s deep orange shimmer and sensual, nutty richness. “In places like northeastern Brazil or Nigeria, for instance, where you have a diet very low in animal fat, dendê is an important thing,” Harris said in a phone conversation. “It’s a part of the traditional diet.”... In the African-influenced cuisine of the Brazilian state of Bahia, there’s a whole subgenre of dendê cooking, she went on to explain. It can be used as the cooking fat, as in the iconic acarajé, or black-eyed-pea fritters (its high smoke point makes it ideal for deep frying), or as a flavoring or finishing ingredient in Bahian dishes such as the chicken stew called xinxim de galinha or the shrimp stew moqueca de camarão. You can also use it in a vinaigrette or swirl it into all sorts of dishes as a condiment, as you would olive oil. The companies that produce all the red palm oil from Malaysia (Carotino is one brand) are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil...  ... Nutiva; according to the company website, its red palm oil is sustainably produced on small organic family farms in Ecuador and certified organic, non-GMO, and Fair Trade...

Reports demystify palm oil myths, expose benefits By: JILL OKEKEon: October 18, 2015; For years, scientists from the so-called developed world, especially the United States, have campaigned relentlessly against the consumption of RPO. It was a target of massive advertising campaign, including widely published allegations that it was hazardous to health. It was attacked as ‘saturated’ since it contains 44% palmitic acid and 5% stearic acid, thereby allegedly raises blood cholesterol and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Because it was comparatively new to many of the so-called developed countries, it was judged solely on the basis of its saturated fatty acid content while its numerous benefits were over looked. ..... It also appears that palm oil, compared to polyunsaturated oils, poses a reduced risk for cancer. This may be due to the tocotrionols in palmoil...

Archived News (26/10/2015) : Olam International Signs MoU With FGV To Train Gabonese Farmers....


19 October 2015: Africa forest plantation worries, Liberia land scramble, Nigeria forex restrictions, Europe mycotoxins export problem, FDI in Cross River, Presco, GVL, Sime Darby chemical explosion

Riot on the plantation - In Liberia, palm oil has set off a dangerous scramble for land - By  Elaisha Stokes in Sinoe county, Liberia Photos by  Kuni Takahashi for Al Jazeera America; Published on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015; On the morning of May 24, a rumor started to circulate around Butaw district. The CEO of Golden Veroleum Liberia, the palm oil company that had become the lifeblood of the local villages, was going to visit. It was a big deal. When the roads are good, Butaw is a six-hour drive from the country’s capital, Monrovia. But the roads are rarely good, and dignitaries seldom visit. When the company planted its first oil palm seedlings in 2010, villagers hoped they might find employment with the company. But for most the jobs didn’t materialize. People remained unemployed and terribly poor. They were farmers by trade, but farmland had become scarce since the company came to town. Now villagers had no land and no jobs, and they were angry.

CBN’s forex restrictions on Crude Palm Oil: Economic implications - The consumption of palm oil in Nigeria amounts to 1.0 million Metric Tonnes (MT) per annum.

Expert urges produce audit to avert exports rejection Posted By: Daniel Essieton: October 09, 2015; Chairman Board of Trustees, Mycotoxicology Society of Nigeria, Prof Dele Fapohunda,  has  urged  the  government to  improve  on exports  standards and ensure commodities  meets European Union (EU) requirements for import...  He said the rejection of some of Nigeria’s exported food items by the EU is not only detrimental to the agricultural sector, but is also counterproductive to the economy. He was addressing a workshop organised by the Raw Materials Research and Development Council in Abuja. He said beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish and meat, peanut chips and palm oil from Nigeria have been banned by the EU till June, next year, which the reason given were aflatoxins and pesticides at unacceptable levels.

ERA, communities decry indiscriminate land use by multinationals By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu and Michael Egbejule, Benin City on October 12, 2015 7:18 am  THE Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has expressed dismay by the activities of most big multinational companies in the country over the ugly trend of forcefully denying their host communities the use of their lands without any commensurate compensation.,,, Rita Uwaka, project officer of ERA in her research findings, told journalists that it was noted that Okomu Oil Palm firm grabbed more land across forest reserves for oil palm business and “another 11,000 hectares of farmland, including two forest reserves grabbed for oil palm plantation expansion by Okomu Oil Palm Plc- a member of the global SOCFIN Group, is worrisome, adding that community-based livelihoods, comprising mainly farming and fishing, had been truncated with over 20 communities risking eviction and human rights abuses....

‘Save us from threats to our existence’ By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu and Michael Egbejule, Benin City on October 13, 2015 5:58 am • ERA, Edo State communities decry indiscriminate land use by multinationals

Sime Darby findings Release   Created: Wednesday, 14 October 2015 05:58, The Inter-Ministerial and Agency Investigative Committee probing the recent fire incident at the Sime Darby Plantations in Bomi County has submitted its findings and recommendations. On the morning of September 20, 2015, a fire incidence occurred at one of the chemical storage facilities within the sime Darby Plantations and gutted the storage.  Preliminary investigation showed that no death occurred. However, ten volunteer-fire-fighters who helped in the fight to extinguish the fire were affected by heat exhaustion mostly. According to a release issued in Monrovia yesterday, immediately upon receiving the news of the incident, an Inter-Ministerial/Agency Investigative Committee was dispatched to the plantations where the team held discussions with both management and workers’ representatives…. During the tour of the facilities and its surrounding areas, the team established that the warehouse storing the chemicals was destroyed by the fire, and that remnants of the burnt chemicals were a major source of an offensive odoe. Given this toxic odor, the management issued nose masks to workers, students, as well as visitors to avoid the toxic (chemicals) smell released into the environment in the aftermath of the explosion. The cause of the fire was traced to an electrical shock which overheated different chemicals stored in varying concentration and under the abnormal temperature of each chemical. The team further observed that due to the lack of trained fire-fighters, fire-fighting equipment and logistics, the fire was not extinguished in time, thereby causing a huge loss to the investment. Upon completion of its investigation, the Committee recommended that Sime Darby Plantations as a company, thoroughly cleanup and properly dispose of the chemical debris at its own cost on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instruction. It also recommended that Sime Darby should not dispose the debris of burnt materials without permit from the Environmental Protection Agency;  desist from spraying herbicides during the raining season....

Sime Darby Plantation welcomes report  Created: Monday, 12 October 2015 08:17

LIBERIA: Aggrieved Women Of Sime Darby Plantation Stage Protest Action; Submitted by Cholo Brooks on Fri, 10/09/2015 - 19:16..Over 60 Women recently stormed the Sime Darby Plantation in Gbarjike, Klay District, Bomi County in protest at the mysterious deaths of cattle in the plantation and neighboring villages.

Liberia: GVL Donates to Educational Efforts in Liberia  13 October 2015

Liberia: Sime Darby Faces Fine Following Chemical Explosion  By Henry Karmo

Nigeria needs restructuring to move forward –Ikoku Posted By: EBERE NDUKWUon: October 06, 2015; Malaysia had to come to International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA in Ibadan to see our palm kernel seedlings and we gave it to them. The IITA in Ibadan is still there, they took our palm kernel seedlings to Malaysia, developed it and within 10 years Malaysia now uses palm oil to produce what they call bio fuel with which you drive a car. Today, they are selling palm oil to Nigeria, is it not a big shame? The thing is that we have left the things that should have helped us grow and are pursuing other things. At what point would you say we got it wrong? We got it wrong after the Nigerian civil war, I won’t say immediately after the independence because with independence we still had national leaders....

Liberia: Affected Communities in Sime Darby Explosion Fear Worst Future 2 October 2015 by The Inquirer (Monrovia)

Ghana - Agric Minister calls for sustainable oil palm production  2 October 2015, AFRICA risks losing out in oil palm production if it fails to mainstream sustainable measures into the production of the commodity, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Fiifi Kwetey, has said.

Palm oil plantations devouring forests in West Africa Global Information Network |   September 29, 2015,  newly released study has found that trees covering an area twice the size of Maine were cut down worldwide in 2014. But, the biggest threat to forests is looming over West Africa. Governments there have been buckling to pressure to convert “vacant” land and sell off forests for more profitable uses, namely palm oil plantations—a key ingredient in shampoo, toothpaste, ice cream, floor polish and many other foodstuffs and cosmetics. By 2020 global demand for palm oil is expected to double and then triple by 2050

GVL Conducts Participatory Mapping with Communities in Grand Kru Thu, 10/01/2015 - 02:24 admin  Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) is holding a series of meetings, alongside land mapping with communities that have freely offered new and additional lands for oil palm development and extension in Grand Kru County.

Nigerian firms in trouble as central bank measures backfire  Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:09am EDT  By Julia Payne * Nigeria imposes forex controls, bans import of 680 items * Manufacturers warn import ban might force closure of plants * Companies wait for weeks to get dollars to pay suppliers * Africa's biggest economy suffers from oil price crash

Presco Taps into Agro Sector Opportunities 30 Sep 2015; Presco is a subsidiary of Siat S.A., a Belgian agro-industrial company, with specialisation in  industrial and  as smallholder plantations of oil palm and rubber, and allied processing industries such as palm oil mills, palm oil refining. As at December 2014, Siat S.A, held 60 per cent  of the total issued shares. First Inland Bank/Fidelity Financial Co. (TRDG) also had  8.16 per cent  of the equity. The  principal activities of Presco Plc are the development of oil palm plantations, palm oil milling, palm kernel processing and vegetable oil refining.  The company cultivates  oil palm and in the extraction, refining and fractionation of crude palm oil into finished products. It is also a supplier of specialty fats and oils. However,  the company, based in Edo State,  has commenced investment in the rubber sector with the establishment of a bud wood garden and the acquisition of 14,000 hectares of land for rubber and oil palm plantations...

GVL welcomes RSPO final decision  Wednesday, 30 September 2015 03:38   Golden Veroleum Liberia or GVL has welcomed the recent final decision issued by the Complaints Panel of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in the country. The final decision, dated Sept. 19th, 2015, identified complaints made to the organization, which had been investigated by the RSPO Complaints panel. A GVL press release says included in the report are clarifications on the company’s Concession Agreement, employment, Free, Prior and Informed Consent, employment of former combatants, crop compensations, etc.   “We thank RSPO for many months of looking into all the details surrounding these complaints and coming up with what they have noted to be evidence-based decisions,” said Stephen Binda, GVL Spokesperson.   The release says in each case RSPO conducted a detailed assessment of GVL operations and its community engagements, along with consultations with local communities and NGO and CSO stakeholders.

Nigeria: Cross River State - Investment Yet to Yield Dividend 20 September 2015 By Anietie Akpan Calabar — The Cross River government, in the last four years, has continue to intensify efforts at improving agriculture production in the state, thereby, diversifying from the over dependence on allocation from the Federation Account. Much of the effort is seen in the establishment of the Songhai Farms, the Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement with PZ Wilmer and massive disbursement of funds to individuals in the private sector. The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources during Senator Liyel Imoke-led administration, Mr. James Aniyom, said the state's policy aimed at repositioning agriculture. He said, "the vision is to move Cross River State agriculture from government to private sector driven. It will also give a clear focus to all stakeholders, the direction of government and address the specific needs of the state." By Anietie Akpan; Calabar — The Cross River government, in the last four y  rs, has continue to intensify efforts at improving agriculture production in the state, thereby, diversifying from the over dependence on allocation from the Federation Account. Much of the effort is seen in the establishment of the Songhai Farms, the Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement with PZ Wilmer and massive disbursement of funds to individuals in the private sector. The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources during Senator Liyel Imoke-led administration, Mr. James Aniyom, said the state's policy aimed at repositioning agriculture. He said, "the vision is to move Cross River State agriculture from government to private sector driven. It will also give a clear focus to all stakeholders, the direction of government and address the specific needs of the state." By Anietie Akpan

Concerns as  Mycotoxins  deny Nigerian products access to EU market Mon, Sep 21st, 2015  Real Sector | By Harrison Edeh  Experts say the use of ‘Mycotoxins’ remains a major factor denying Nigerian and other developing countries’ food items access to the European and American markets. Mycotoxin is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungi kingdom, commonly known as molds. This concern is coming on the heels of the European Union (EU) ban, until 2016

Liberia’s Port Shows Surge in Trade as Nation Recovers from Ebola - APM Terminals says a 30% jump in container volume through Monrovia demonstrates a gathering recovery after disease devastated the population and the country’s economy By  Brian Baskin   Sept. 15, 2015 2:11 p.m. ET

‘Failure of mono economy creates investment opportunities in non-oil sector’ Sep 14th, 2015  Economy | By ODINAKA ANUDU & HOPE MOSES-ASHIKE  

Kissing livelihoods and ecosystems goodbye — the very real threat of 'fake forests' in Africa  15 Sep 2015 09:25|Samantha Spooner; Planted forests have been increasing in Africa at a rate of 0.2 million hectare a year--to the benefit largely of the commercial plantations....This culminated in a protest on September 10 in Durban, when over 3,000 people took to the streets as part of an action against “fake forests”. The march concluded with Greenpeace executive director, Kumi Naidoo, handing over a 100,000 signature petition against plantations to the WFC Programme Manager Motsamai Nkosi. Fake forest threat. Since 1990, some 38 million hectares  of primary forest have been reported as modified or cleared. This does not necessarily mean that this forest is converted to other land uses. Primary forest, when modified but not cleared, changes into other naturally regenerated (secondary) forest and in some cases planted forest. Planted forest area has increased by over 110 million hectares since 1990, reaching a to al of 290 million hectare in 2015, and accounts for 7% of the world’s forest area. In the case of Africa, the amount of replanted forest increased by 0.2 million hectares per year from 2010, totalling 16 million hectares in 2015. What is of concern to the civil society groups is that even the FAO is not making enough of a differentiation between natural and planted forests and the impact this has on the ecosystems and local communities. For example, the FAO’s definition of ‘“forest” includes commercial plantations of fast growing trees.

13 September 2015: Deforestation shifts to West Africa, Nigeria EU ban, Presco Nigeria cuts costs, DekelOil certification, Nigeria forex waivers problem 

Trees covering an area twice the size of Portugal lost in 2014, study finds - Palm oil plantations are devouring forests rapidly worldwide, with west Africa becoming the new hot spot for tree loss, Wednesday 2 September 2015 04.00 BST;  ...Researchers at the US-based World Resources Institute (WRI) who analysed the data said they were surprised by the west Africa finding. Among the 10 countries are Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Madagascar, which last year lost 2% of its total forest area to agriculture, mining and the timber industry. Nigel Sizer, who leads the forests work at the WRI thinktank, said that the data showed tree loss was no longer just a problem for Brazil and Indonesia. “We are seeing a shift in the expansion of tree cover loss to a second tier of smaller countries that traditionally get much less attention from environmental groups.” ....Liberia’s finance minister, Amara Konneh has said the nation is “worried about the ecological consequences” of palm oil but must grow the economy to create jobs. The analysis shows that more than 62% of tree loss in tropics last year occurred outside of Indonesia and Brazil, in comparison to 47% in 2001. The two countries are home to some of the world’s largest tropical forests and have long been the focus of conservationists concerned about the impact on indigenous communities and endangered species.

Export Council Seeks Review Of EU Ban On Nigeria’s Products by Channels Television. Updated September 8, 2015; Agricultural products banOfficials of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council are looking at ways of reviewing the European Union’s ban of products from Nigeria. Issues of poor packaging, non-adherence to food safety measures and non-compliance to administrative procedure had characterised ‎product export from Nigeria to countries in Europe...

Can This Government Truly Rescue Liberian Businesses? Thu, 09/10/2015 - 22:22 admin

Presco Nigeria profit surges on cost cuts Wed, Sep 2nd, 2015; Presco Nigeria Plc’s cost control measures put in place by its proactive management have paid off as half year net income increased 10.18 percent amid tough operating environment crimping the growth of companies in Africa’s largest economy. Profit was N1.19 billion in June 2015, from N1.08 billion the same period of the corresponding year (HI) 2014. The growth at the bottom line was a result of a 25.25 percent reduction in cost of sales to N2.05 billion from N2.78 billion last year....

Cheap vegetable oils said to be killing oil palm industry in Ghana   August 25, 2015

DekelOil Moves Ahead On Certification As Sustainable Palm Oil Producer  Tue, 25th Aug 2015 08:45; DekelOil said its objective is to become the first RSPO certified, fully functioning producer of crude palm oil in the Ivory Coast and among the first in West Africa. It said it has engaged with Proforest, a UK-based environmental and social consulting group, to assist with the implementation of social and environmental programmes to prepare its milling operations and oil palm estates for certification. The mill is anticipated to be certified first, with the oil palm estates to be certified within three years of the completion of the mill certification.

‘CBN’s policy ‘ll promote local self-sufficiency’ Posted By: Osagie Otaboron: August 28, 2015; The Managing Director,  Okomu Oil Palm Plc, Dr. Graham Heifer, has said the policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on forex only affected businessmen asking for waivers especially on palm oil. He said granting waivers by previous administration has affected oil palm production in the country negatively. Heifer who spoke with reporters said granting waivers was unfair because some people have to pay duty while others got waiver to bring in things and it affected the industry negatively. The Okomu Oil chief said the CBN policy offered local producers of oil palm to produce more as well as an opportunity for others to invest in the business. He said his firm has purchased 12,000 hectares of land in Ovia North East Local government Area of Edo State with a view to expanding production to meet market demands.

7 September 2015: NIFOR worried about adulterated palm oil, Olam Gabon settlers training at Felda schemes

Nigeria: Institute Raises Alarm Over Adulteration of Palm Oil 26 August 2015; By Eyo Charles  Calabar — Director of research at Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) Dr Celestine Ikwuenobi is alarmed that palm oil widely used for food has been adulterated with chemicals used in the dyeing of clothes. He said this has become a major health risk among consumers of the products. He disclosed this Wednesday during a training session for oil palm farmers in Calabar by a non-governmental organisation, Solidaridad. He said that unless efforts are taken to address the situation a major health disaster will erupt in the country. He also disclosed that the adulteration is not only in palm oil but also oil palm seedlings sold to farmers, stressing that the chemical is unsafe for human consumption.

54 Gabonese settlers undergoing training at Felda schemes   6 September 2015 @ 10:28 AM   KUALA LUMPUR: Gabon-based OLAM Palm Gabon SA has sent 54 Gabonese settlers to undergo a four-month training at Felda land schemes in Trolak, Perak and Tekam, Pahang.  The training, which entails a one-month stint on farm management and another three months on oil palm cultivation, is being conducted by Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd’s (FGV), FGV Organisational Learning and Development Manager Saiful Nizam Yahaya said.....

22 August 2015: Olam Gabon opens new palm oil mill, ‘We want our land back': Liberian communities speak out about big palm oil, Nigeria Agricultural Transformation Agenda, Nigeria’s Agro-products And EU Ban, EPOL exports infra, Global Witness "Snake Oil" report, Wilmar and Socapalm also under scrutiny, Presco earnings.

Gabon opens new palm oil plant Posted by:  APA   Posted date : August 14, 2015 at 7:06 pm UTC  252 views  In : business; Gabonese President, Ali Bongo Ondimba on Friday inaugurated a new palm oil production facility in Kango, south of Libreville.  It is the second such plant after that managed by SIAT Gabon in Lambaréné (center). The plant was built by the Singapore-owned agro-industrial group Olam, as part of a public-private partnership with the Gabonese government. Gabon exploits oil palm trees for cooking oil and soap. The country plans to increase its oil production to 250,000 tons by 2020 and thus become the largest producer in Africa, south of the Sahara.

 ‘We want our land back': Liberian communities speak out about big palm oil 10th August 2015 / Sara Jerving; Some communities are eager to participate Liberia's expanding palm oil industry, while others say their land was taken from them without their permission.... This is the first part in a series on palm oil in Liberia written through on-the-ground reporting.  Read the second part here....

Nigeria. Adesina Slams Oshiomole For Criticising Jonathan’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda Posted by: niyi  August 19, 2015; ...under ATA, efficient distribution of subsidised farm inputs – also known as the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS), reached 14.3million farmers with 1.3million MT of fertiliser, 102,703 metric tons of improved rice seeds, 67,991 metric tons of improved maize seeds, 6,171 metric tons of improved cotton seeds, 130 million stems of cassava, 45.5million seedlings of cocoa, nine million seedlings of oil palm amongst many other crops between 2012 and 2014....

Nigeria’s Agro-products And EU Ban bt leadership editorial — Aug 9, 2015 3:27 am; Recently, it was reported that the European Union (EU) has placed a ban on a number of Nigeria’s agricultural products, for not meeting the quality standards set for such items destined for their markets. In other words, the products failed the standardisation test and, therefore, did not meet the stringent international exports standards of countries in the Union. The items include beans, sesame seeds, dried fish, dried meat, peanut chips and palm oil. The restriction, it also indicated, will last till June next year. Before the discovery of petroleum in commercial quantity, agriculture used to be the nation’s economic mainstay. Cocoa, rubber, timber for instance, financed the free education and other laudable policies of the then Western Region; groundnuts, ginger, cotton and other products bank-rolled development projects in the North, while palm produce put the Eastern Region on the world map, as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa decades ago. With easy petro-dollar, the country lost its agricultural momentum to the point that she is today a net importer of agro-products from palm oil, cocoa derivatives, rice to poultry and dairy products. Each year, the country spends billions of dollars importing agricultural products that can be conveniently produced locally....

MADE in the Niger Delta By Idang Alibi | Publish Date: Aug 12 2015 11:15PM | Updated Date: Aug 13 2015 8:00AM MADE, as used here, is not the past tense of make. Rather, it is an acronym standing for Market for Development (MADE) project in the Niger Delta. MADE is a DFID funded intervention agency meant to create market for poor farmers and develop linkages among them in the nine states of the Niger Delta in order to improve their socio-economic circumstances....

Equatorial Palm Oil Reaches Deal To Allow Exports From Liberia Mon, 10th Aug 2015 12:47; LONDON (Alliance News) - Equatorial Palm Oil PLC Monday said it has signed an agreement with the National Port Authority of Liberia to lease land so it can build a palm product export facility at the port of Buchanan. The company signed the agreement through its operating subsidiary, LIBINC Oil Palm Inc, so it can build the export facility at the port, which lies around 24 kilometres away from Equatorial Palm Oil's Palm Bay estate. The 4.5 acre site is in close proximity to the wharf where vessels will load the company's produce to ship to customers. The company will truck its produce from Palm Bay to the port of Buchanan, where it will store its produce in a tank which it intends to build at the site. Over time, Equatorial Palm Oil will build the tank to have a capacity of 10,000 metric tonnes of palm oil...

Africa: Will Herakles Farms' Monster Palm Oil Project Destroy Endangered Animal Habitats Too? 11 August 2015

Palm Oil Company Is Accused of Exploiting Liberia’s Ebola Crisis By CLAIR MacDOUGALLAUG. 1, 2015; Mr. Wloh, 35, comes from a long line of farmers and has been working the land since childhood. But last year, during the height of the Ebola outbreak, his community signed an agreement turning over large swaths of land to Golden Veroleum Liberia, a palm oil company that operates in remote parts of southeastern Liberia. The agreement was signed in September and a few months later large tracts of land were cleared to make way for palm oil plantations.

Sierra Leone News : Gold Tree Opines Economic Boom from Oil Palms  By Augustine Samba  Aug 5, 2015, 17:02 Email this article; The General Manager of the Goldtree Oil Palm Plantation on Friday 30th July 2015 said well planned oil palm investment will yield huge economic boom for Sierra Leone but lamented his company was as yet unable to secure needful funding. Mr. Pieter Van Dessel made this statement during his presentation to the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and Ministry officials at a meeting held at the Goldtree Oil Palm Mill at Daru in the Kailahun District....

East Africa: Land Mishaps Stall Palm Tree Project 1 August 2015 By Isaac Khisa Poor land documentation and resistance from landowners are stalling regional vegetable oil and soap maker Bidco's palm tree growing project on the Buvuma Islands in Lake Victoria. Sources familiar with the situation told The EastAfrican that the palm oil project is yet to take off three years after it was launched, because the government is yet to secure enough land.

Liberia: Brown Debunks Global Witness 'Snake Oil' Report 30 July 2015 By Wilfred Gortor; Information Minister Lewis G. Brown has refuted reports by the advocacy group Global Witness that the Government of Liberia is involved in unwholesome acts such as confiscating private lands for use by concessionaires. According to Minister Brown, the report which was dubbed "Snake Oil," referenced specifically Golden Veroleum Liberia, owner of the biggest palm oil plantation in the Southeastern region, as being aided by government to terrorize citizens in signing away their lands. The Information Minister termed the report as "inaccurate and contrary" to government's vision of ensuring and guaranteeing land ownership and the rights of land tenures for the people of Liberia.

Food Musings: On The Palm Oil Matter, To Eat Or Not To Eat by Ifeyinwa Nzeka 2 weeks ago 8415 Editor’s note: Palm oil, made from palm kernels, is a staple in Nigeria, used especially in soups and of course, beans. However, lately, it has been getting a bad rap among promoters of ‘healthy’ eating.‘s contributor, Ifeyinwa Nzeka analyses the matter to help decide whether to eat or not to eat.

Uganda’s farmers battle palm oil Goliaths for land By AFP on July 25, 2015; Muylisa, a 53-year old father of nine, had leased a 17 hectare (40 acre) plot farming coffee, bananas, cassava and potatoes on Kalangala island. But in 2011 that land was taken and cleared for a palm oil estate. “It’s like I’m starting all over again now,” Muyiisa said, adding he once could earn over 1,400 dollars a year (1,300 euros) but is now struggling to survive... It is a story repeated elsewhere in Africa, where large internationally-backed companies are snapping up agricultural land, and activists claim their actions deprive local farmers of basic needs. But Muyiisa did not legally own the land he farms.. The palm oil project is being carried out by Oil Palm Uganda, a subsidiary of local food producer Bidco Uganda. Bidco in turn is a joint venture between global palm oil giant Wilmar International — backed by several European banks and financiers — and other international partners....

See How Much Nigeria Earned From Non-oil Commodities In 2014 by Clement Ejiofor 3 weeks ago; According to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) data, Nigeria earned a total sum of $2.4bn from the exportation of cocoa, rubber, and other non-oil commodities within the 2014 fiscal period. The NEPC estimates show that cocoa exports with a total amount of $666.45m accounted for the highest non-oil export earnings, followed by raw hides, skins and leather with $487.97m. Oil seeds, grains and plant/straw – $389.78m; aluminium, $113.35m; tobacco, $109.05m...
Agriculture As Panacea To Nigeria’s Failed Economy July 31, 2015 • By Comrade Imuagbonhen Johnson

Africa: Can We Save Forests and Produce Palm Oil? Scientists Seek Answer 29 July 2015 By Megan Rowling;...Led by an independent team of 50 scientists, a draft version of the "High Carbon Stock Study" - commissioned by a group of Asian oil palm growers, agribusiness giant Cargill and consumer goods firm Unilever - was released last month for consultation....

Ghana is second leading producer of palm oil in Africa and yet… – Opoku-Asare July 25, 2015... Mr Gabriel Opoku-Asare, the Head of Corporate Affairs, Unilever Ghana, has described the palm oil sub-sector as the next “gold” for the country if it can meet the increasing global demand for sustainable palm oil. He said the palm oil sector currently employs over 300,000 people in the country and this must be given the needed attention to exploit its full potential....

West Africa develops guidelines for responsible production of palm oil July 29, 2015; The workshop, held in Accra, was part of the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020 Africa Palm Oil initiative, which is developing a set of high level regional principles to guide palm oil development across the region. Proforest, which is leading the Initiative on behalf of TFA 2020, organised the Ghana National Workshop on Sustainable Palm Oil Development in collaboration with the Government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. It brought together senior representatives of the government, traditional leaders, major palm oil producing and consumer goods companies, and civil society organisations....The workshop brought together TFA 2020 is a public–private partnership bringing together companies, governments and civil society with a shared goal of reducing tropical deforestation across the globe. Its focus is on agricultural commodities like palm oil, soy, pulp and paper, and beef products, which drive more than 50 per cent of such deforestation....

The palm oil company at the centre of a bitter land rights struggle in Cameroon - Local residents complain expansion plans by Socapalm, Cameroon’s biggest palm oil company, will take over land that belongs to them; Victoria Schneider in Cameroon; Victoria Schneider is a freelance journalist. She has written for Al Jazeera, Krautreporter and Zeit Online Monday 27 July 2015 13.45 BST; Socapalm owns six plantation concessions in Cameroon, located in two regions along the country’s fertile coast.... We are not far from Mbonjo II, one of the villages inside the Dibombari region, in west Cameroon that is also a concession area of the private oil palm company Socapalm. Currently the country’s biggest producer, Socapalm is trying to further expand production and help Cameroon become a net exporter of palm oil.

Liberia: Global Witness Exposé Reveals Violence, Threats, and False Promises Driving Rapid Palm Oil Expansion in Liberia 23 July 2015;  press release Urgent reforms needed to protect citizens and regulate plantation companies... press release Urgent reforms needed to protect citizens and regulate plantation companies. Oil palm growers push for protection, Business News of Saturday, 18 July 2015; Government needs to urgently introduce fiscal measures to protect the oil palm industry so as to attract investors and rural dwellers, oil palm outgrowers and smallholder farmers in the Eastern Region have said. The farmers argued that if adequate protection is not given to the palm sector, the country will risk losing local production of 135,000 tonnes that needs to be replaced by imports -- which will cost the country more than US$95million and also risk eliminating the livelihoods of 290,000 farmers....

Palm oil firm under fire over land deals sealed during Ebola crisis in Liberia - Campaign group urges Golden Veroleum Liberia to renegotiate deals in which communities panic-stricken by Ebola signed over thousands of hectares of land...

Palm Oil's Push To Control More Land In West Africa - There are claims communities in Liberia are under pressure to give up land for palm oil plantations. We discuss the allegations with the campaign group Global Witness and hear from David Rothschild, theco-founder of Golden Veroleum, the company that has signed a contract with the Liberian government to exploit palm oil.…Thu 23 Jul 2015

Mounting complaints put Wilmar under scrutiny, The world's largest palm oil trader faces accusations against unresolved land grabbing and human rights issues by its concessions in Asia and Africa, but says it stands by its sustainability policy. By Medilyn Manibo Tuesday 21 July 2015.  Farmers protesting Wilmar’s destruction of their lands, near Ibogo Village, Cross River State in May 2015....Two years after Wilmar International set an ambitious drive to commit to zero-deforestation and protection of indigenous rights, its suppliers are still at the center of land disputes with indigenous communities in Asia and Africa, civil society groups reported earlier this month.
Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), which has been tracking the Singapore-listed firm’s ground operations in Borneo, Sumatra, Uganda and Nigeria, said on July 8 that indigenous communities have accused Wilmar of resorting to “dirty tricks” to secure licenses and resolve land-grabbing issues.

PRESCO Plc records N2.6bn profit  Posted: 7:15 am, July 24, 2015 by admin; OBARETIN (IKPOBA-OKHA) – Presco Plc has posted the sum of N2,605,302 as profit after tax for the year ended December 31, 2014 as against the N1,337,202,000 for preceding financial year representing a 7.69 percent increase over that of previous year. - See more at:

CBN to Lead Revitalisation of Oil Palm Sector 11 Jul 2015; The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has disclosed the central bank’s resolve to lead the revitalisation of the oil palm sector in Nigeria in order to provide jobs for Nigerians. Emefiele, made the pledge after meeting with rice processing companies in Nigeria in Abuja at the weekend. The meeting between the management of the CBN and oil palm value chain stakeholders also agreed on a road map to resolve the challenges in the oil palm value chain in Nigeria.

Manufacturer Plans N1.2b Oil Processing Factory in Anambra   By:   Awka., Nkiru Nwagbo   10:14 pm, July 13, 2015; The Managing Director Chicason Group, Nnewi , Engr. Linus Ilozue has disclosed that the company has concluded plans to establish a palm oil plantation, valued at N1.2billion, in Anambra State with a capacity production of 150 tons per day . Disclosing this during a joint press briefing with the management of Chicason Group, and the state government at the company premises, Nnewi, Anambra State, on Monday, Engr. Ilozue said his company has approached Anambra State government for allocation of 34,000 hectares of land to establish palm plantation in the state. He said the farm is expected to yield over 1000 tons of palm produce to feed their vegetable oil plant which presently has production capacity of 50 tons per day....

Wilmar replies FoE on condemnation of operations in Nigeria, pledges to remain focus on responsible development  By Press Release July 16, 2015 19:46:24pm GMT   ; Leading global palm oil trader, Wilmar International Ltd on Thursday released a detailed respond to the Friends of the Earth U.S. and Environmental Rights Action-Nigeria damnation of its operations in Nigeria with a report, “Exploitation and empty promises: Wilmar’s Nigerian landgrab” on July 8, 2015, saying many of the allegations were rehashed from earlier reports to which Wilmar had responded or in which the issues raised havd been addressed....

Gov’t partly takes blame for GVL’s crisis   Created: Tuesday, 30 June 2015 09:52   Published: Tuesday, 30 June 2015 09:52   President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says part of the causes resulting to some unfortunate incidence at Golden Veroleum Liberia’s operations is due to government “not fully engaging the communities.” Mrs. Sirleaf made the comment after receiving letters of credence from Indonesian Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Harry Purwanto at her office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia. Golden Veroleum Liberia or GVL is an Indonesian oil palm concession company that began operations here following negotiations between the Government of Liberia and its Indonesian counterpart to invest in the agriculture sector.


21 July 2015: Millions of dollars pumped into oil palm development in Tanzania, DekelOil’s success belies weak palm oil market, Ghana - Banks urged to support oil palm sector, Liberia conmen use EPOL and Sime Darby Liberia as lure

Millions of dollars pumped into oil palm development in Tanzania by  John C. Cannon July 09, 2015; A partnership with foreign investors aims to scale up the East African nation’s production of palm oil, but details on its implementation and possible consequences remain scarce. Plans for a 10,000-hectare oil palm project are underway in Tanzania, backed by a $111 million investment from a local industrialization organization and a foreign investment firm, reported the East African Business Times. The National Development Corporation, or NDC, is spearheading what they’re calling the Integrated Oil Palm Project in the Ruvu River Basin near Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. It’s the next step in a deal signed in 2013 with Nava Bharat, a venture capital firm based in Singapore. So far, the project has secured 6,000 hectares of the total project area. NDC was formed by an act of parliament in the 1960s to “catalyze economic development” with the motto, “Join us in industrializing Tanzania.” The organization points to lucrative export markets hungry for palm oil in Europe and Asia. “Oil palm has been chosen as it is ideal for commercial agriculture thus supporting ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ campaigns,” according to the NDC website. “Kilimo Kwanza,” Swahili for “transforming agriculture” or “agriculture first,” is Tanzania’s campaign to advance the country’s agriculture sector, which is responsible for more than a quarter of the nation’s economy.  In the past decade, the Tanzanian Government has shown increasing interest in biofuels in general and oil palm specifically in an effort to steel its economy against the effects of rising fuel prices and help it move toward energy self sufficiency. The government set up a task force in 2006 to facilitate the growth of Tanzania into a biofuel- and palm oil-producing country..... Read more:

DekelOil’s success belies weak palm oil market 12:21 08 Jul 2015; DekelOil maintains good margins despite current low-end palm oil prices; DekelOil’s Ayenouan mill in the Ivory Coast produced 21,836 tonnes of crude palm oil (CPO) in the six month period, which includes the peak harvest between March and June. That represents a 53% increase on the 14,242 tonnes that were produced in the whole of 2014. “We continue to sell at a premium [to the international palm oil price] and we continue to have a good gross margin even at current low-end prices,” executive director Lincoln Moore explained recently. Production growth and margin gains set DekelOil up for a “significant step change in profitability”, Moore explained as the company gave its first half update.The imminent addition of a new kernel crushing plant promises further upside and is central to Dekel’s strategy to maximise profitability, according to Moore.....

Ghana - Banks urged to support oil palm sector Thursday, 9 July 2015 Source: B&FT; Banks and other financial institutions have been challenged to take a strong stance in providing financial incentives to support the oil palm sector, as the commodity’s value chain holds great potential to be the next economic driver and improve rural livelihoods. “From the government side, nobody gives the smallholder farmers any financial support. The banks also continuously deny them financial support; this is a major hindrance to the survival of the oil palm industry. “Investors and banks must begin to invest heavily in oil palm value chain as this can allow them to push for best practice via responsible investment standards, and limiting their financial services to certified sustainable companies.  "Oil palm growers ultimately rely on their own little financial support to balance their books and finance further expansion of their plantations; this is not helping the sector to achieve the expected growth,” Rosemary Addico, Country  anager, Oil Palm Ghana, Solidaridad told participants drawn from the country’s financial sector including the commercial banks, rural banks microfinance institutions, and savings and loans institutions at a two-day programme at Cape Coast in the Central Region.

2 Arrested with US$700,000 Counterfeit  Tue, 07/07/2015 - 23:49 admin  By: Alvin Worzi; The LNP boss revealed that Mr. Lacto has been a con-artist since the 90s, which he (Lacto) admitted to investigators. “He and his men, to be identified, operate a network through which they usually persuade their victims to believe that Equatorial Palm Oil Liberia, Sime Darby and other institutions are in search of anti-bug, chlorine and other chemicals to buy,” he said. Director Massaquoi further explained that, “They create amongst themselves local dealers, sales agents as well as chemists in order to carry out their criminal activities and Mr. Lacto was arrested several times during the regime of former President, Charles Taylor.”...

1 July 2015: Ebola fears again?

Ebola Death in Liberia Sparks Fears of New Outbreak - Quarantine imposed after teenage boy dies of the disease By  Patrick McGroarty   Updated June 30, 2015 1:47 p.m. ET  JOHANNESBURG—Liberian officials on Tuesday quarantined a neighborhood near the capital city where a 17-year-old boy died of Ebola, a grim setback for a poor African country that was declared free of the deadly virus in May. Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah said dozens of people were under observation after potentially coming into contact...


27 June 2015: Sime Darby adapts engagement strategy, Wilmar International Response to Nigeria palm oil land grab allegations, Nigeria: Apex bank announces new measures to stabilise forex market, Liberia concessions and UN Mission draws down

Sime Darby adapts engagement strategy  Created: Tuesday, 23 June 2015 05:54   Published: Tuesday, 23 June 2015 05:54  Sime Darby The new Chief Executive Officer or CEO for the Malaysian-owned Sime Darby Plantation in Liberia has promised to adapt a policy of engagement as an effective strategy in interacting with various stakeholders, including citizens, government and the media on activities of the company. Mr. Rosli Mohamed Taib said Sime Darby Plantation is here to stay and disclosed that management looks forward to commence harvesting and processing its palm crop into finished products by November this year. Speaking with editors and correspondents over the weekend at a local restaurant in Sinkor, Monrovia CEO Taib said due to Ebola outbreak in Liberia last year, the company suspended several activities, including construction of a staff headquarters on the plantation. However, he added that palm mills or machinery for the processing of palm nuts into finished products are being assembled in Malaysia and would be ready within two years. Mr. Taib also disclosed that a medium size mills for the plantation is being acquired and would be operational by August or September, pending arrival of the bigger mills in Liberia in two years. The Malaysian company scaled down operations following the devastated outbreak of Ebola here last year, but has maintained 2,800 local workers, who continue to receive benefits, including subsidized food and free healthcare....

Strengthening Liberia's Justice and Security as the UN Mission Draws Down....  Posted:  06/18/2015 1:28 pm EDT    Updated:  06/18/2015 1:59 pm EDT  Liberia has less than 13 months to assume full responsibility for its own security, as the UN peacekeeping mission in the country since 2003 continues to draw down. With many Liberians uneasy at the prospect of an eventual withdrawal of the mission, the government needs to establish clear priorities now to be prepared.  Liberia has made great progress in 12 years of peace. But many Liberians remain "jittery," as one minister remarked last month, about the prospect of UNMIL leaving too quickly, and question whether their government is prepared to take over.....Liberia's mining and other concessions - principally iron ore, timber, rubber and palm oil - are assumed to be the drivers for national growth. Since the end of the war, there has been a reported inflow of $16 billion in foreign direct investment, largely in these concessions. But these concessions are also hot spots for tension and violence. I recently travelled to Sinoe County, where violence had broken out on the morning of May 26 at a major oil palm plantation. Seventy-two UNMIL police personnel were deployed to the scene to help restore calm, along with UNMIL civilian staff.  The UNMIL police withdrew by the end of the day, with the situation calm and Liberian security in control. However, when I spoke with the local administration and concession managers about the events, they talked soberly about what the outcome might have been without the UN intervention. Simply put, without adequate security, these investments will be at risk. As the Minister of Justice has noted, without a climate of security farmers in their fields are at risk, too. And a well-functioning system of justice is needed, to deal fairly with criminals, and strengthen accountability. Here, too, absenteeism poses significant problems throughout the country....

Wilmar International Response to Nigeria palm oil land grab allegations - Wilmar expects its suppliers to comply with its No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation Policy (“Policy”), and its own operations are no exception.  It is being implemented across all operations including subsidiaries and joint ventures, in partnership with The Forest Trust (TFT). A testament to our continuous efforts in Nigeria and Uganda can be found in a write-up from TFT explaining the work Wilmar, together with TFT, have done - and are continuing to do - to ensure that our practices in those two countries comply with our Policy...The Group therefore rejects the allegations in yet again another report “Deforestation, exploitation, hypocrisy: no end to Wilmar's palm oil land grabs” by Friends of the Earth (FoE) and the Ecologist, particularly the case of Nigeria, in which many of the allegations were rehashed and have been dismissed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Complaints Panel. We welcome issues to be raised by concerned stakeholders but we would appreciate that they are based on facts and supported by evidence.  For this reason, Wilmar is obliged to clarify many of the misleading points in the report... [Wilmar also provided this water analysis from a laboratory in Nigeria as part of its response.];

Ghosts of problems past and present loom over Nigerian palm oil plans Greg Norman May 28, 2015; Africa is often described as a new frontier for industrial palm oil production, such are the number of new plantations being planned and developed. The expansion of large-scale plantations on the continent, however, could be seen as a global industry returning to its roots, and that is no truer than in the case of Nigeria.  Cross River State, a coastal jurisdiction in southeastern Nigeria, still bears the marks of the country's agricultural heritage when it was the world's largest palm oil producer. That lasted until the late 1960s, when Malaysia and Indonesia surpassed it.  The landscape is now dotted with hundreds of small farms and agricultural developments. Many mark the sites of the government's past attempts to set up large-scale plantations, which ended in failure or with significant forest destruction or both. These include projects backed by the European Union in the 1990s.  The state is also home to pristne tracts of rainforest and endangered species such as the Cross River gorilla, of which the latest figures suggest there are no more than 300 left.  This is where Wilmar, one of the world's largest palm oil producers, has set up shop. Its projects through local subsidiary PZ Wilmar will cover close to 30,000 hectares, including on old plantations through so-called backward integration. The company claims these will create much needed employment and help Nigeria address its palm oil shortfall, which has seen the country become an importer of foodstuffs. Read more:

Nigeria: Apex bank announces new measures to stabilise forex market Posted by:  SPOREVER   Posted date : 24 June 2015 at 8:37 am UTC  The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has exempted importers of some goods and services from those qualifying to access foreign exchange from the foreign exchange window. The CBN said in a circular on Tuesday in Abuja that the measure was intended to stabilise the foreign exchange market and ensure its efficient utilisation, amongst other benefits. According to the circular signed by the Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Olakanmi Gbadamosi, the goods include, rice, cement, margarine, palm kernel/palm oil products/vegetable oil; meat and processed meat products. The others are vegetables and processed vegetable products; poultry-chicken, eggs, turkey; private airplane and jets; Indian incense; tinned fish in sauce (Geisha)/sardines; cold rolled steel sheets; galvanised sheets; roofing sheets; wheelbarrows; head pans; and metal boxes and containers among others. The CBN said that the measure was part of its continuing efforts to sustain the stability of the foreign exchange market and ensure efficient utilisation and derivation of optimal benefits from goods and services imported into the country.  “It has become imperative to exclude importers of some goods and services from accessing foreign exchange at the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Markets in order to encourage local production.

Nigeria: Ado-Ekiti Polytechnic Opens 200 Hectares of Oil-Palm to Boost Revenue Nigeria: Ado-Ekiti Polytechnic Opens 200 Hectares of Oil-Palm to Boost Revenue

2 June 2015: Liberia labour actions affects Golden Veroleum / Golden Agri - 23 suspects charged for attack

Liberia Charges 23 Suspects for Palm-Oil Plantation Attack by Sarah McGregor June 2, 2015 — 5:08 AM HKT Liberian authorities have charged 23 people in connection with violent protests and looting last week at a palm-oil plantation run by Golden Veroleum Ltd., police said.
A dispute over pay turned violent when protesters broke into the plantation on May 26, destroyed parts of the facility including vandalizing a rice warehouse, and stole equipment, according to the company and police. The demonstrators set up road blocks to prevent authorities from responding, wounded employees and temporarily held a manager captive.

Liberia charges 23 over violent plantation protest: police By Afp  Published: 16:16, 2 June 2015  | Updated: 16:16, 2 June 2015  Liberian police have charged 23 people over riots at a palm oil plantation in which a senior company official was taken hostage and a government minister wounded, the force said on Tuesday. Protesters with machetes broke into Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) in Sinoe County, in the country's southeast, on Tuesday last week, looting equipment and workers' property, according to the Liberian National Police and the company. "Several weapons including machetes, knives and other deadly instruments were found in their possession," the police said in a statement on the protesters, who were arrested on Friday last week. GVL said Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf, a nephew of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, had been wounded by the protesters as he tried to negotiate a settlement. The protest prompted an angry response from the president, who urged Liberians to stand against violent disorder as she returned from a visit to Ivory Coast on Wednesday last week.

24 May 2015:  Vandebeeck (Presco Oil Palm) interview, Sime Darby denies strike (its a go slow labour action)

Vandebeeck (Presco Oil Palm): Buhari's Dream to Export Oil Palm Unfulfilled 30 Years After 19 May 2015 Pierre Vandebeeck In this interview with Crusoe Osagie, the Chairman of Presco Oil Palm Plc, Pierre Vandebeeck, stresses the need for the incoming administration to pursue the advancement of the local vegetable oil industry and end importation. Excerpts: I think you have asked me why a Nigerian as the Managing Director, this country is the most exciting place as far as I am concerned. I was called by the President of Congo Brazzaville ‎sometime ago and he asked what I was doing in Nigeria and Gabon wasting my time. Today, we have our biggest investment in Gabon, but Nigeria is our game changer,  Ivory coast is number two and we are also going to Liberia soon and from here I go to Abidjan and next week I am in Liberia, but at the onset I have said that Nigeria is the biggest place to be but how big is the risk and we do not want to lay all our eggs in the same basket and this is why we diversified in many other countries, but I always come back here to say this is where we can make things happen. One other thing I will like to add is the lesson to be learnt from the drop in petroleum prices in the market, even though the Nigerian market is insatiable for palm oil products, we have to think about foreign exchange generation and that is why we are going into rubber and cocoa. No matter how much Naira we will make, one day we will have to go to the bank because I have to pay dividends to international investors and I have to buy new machines and I have to pay for  the oil mills and the rest. We are going to diversify our crops into cash crops for export and palm products for the local market.  This is not to say that we will put less money into oil palm ‎because this is what makes money and it is also the money spinner. We also have to think about how we are going to get all the dollars that we need because a concern like this gulps a lot of dollars because we need spare parts, machineries and what we are experiencing today and I did not know  that it was so serious, today in Nigeria, it is not easy to get dollars. There are no more dollars in the banking system and a year ago, I warned them about something like this saying that a time will come there will be a dollar crunch. Do you need a power license to generate your power?  No, we are generating on our own power from waste in our Biogas plant and doing what we have to do. When I was in Ologbo there was this huge gas field flaring gas and I said what a waste because they have three huge flares. Put a turbine there of about 10 mega watts and you will supply the whole of Delta State and Edo State all the power they need.

Sime Darby denies strike (its a go slow) report  Published: Monday, 18 May 2015 02:10  The Management of  Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL) has clarified that there is no strike at its plantation contrary to report in the media. “What is happening is a “go slow” action, which means that employees are coming to work but mainly with a purpose of discussing work-related issues with the management”, a press release issued by the company on Sunday said. According to the release, every April the company in accordance with the Liberian tax regulation, deducts Vacation Leave Payment tax from pay-checks, which causes employees’ dissatisfaction, adding, “We are currently talking to the representatives of the workers’ union to explain the issue and resolve any misunderstanding.” Recently, an online news outlet, Global News Network Liberia, reported strike at China Union and Sime Darby Plantation Liberia.

20 May 2015: Teething issues for Olam’s rubber push in Gabon  by AFP

Teething issues for Olam’s rubber push in Gabon Source: AFP BITAM, Gabon, May 20, 2015: When one of the world’s biggest traders of agricultural commodities went to Gabon’s government with a multi-million-dollar plan to produce rubber, the authorities jumped at the chance to diversify an oil-dependent economy. The Batouri rubber plantation and processing plant taking shape in the north not only will bring US$400 million (RM1.44 billion) in investments but also up to 5,000 new jobs to a nation with an unemployment rate topping 20%. Crucially, it was also viewed as the first step for the equatorial African country to diversify its economy, which draws about 70% of its revenues from energy exports. But critics are alarmed at the environmental and social costs of the project by the Singapore-based company Olam, warning that it could wipe out biodiversity in the tropical forest and threaten farming livelihoods. .......Gupta said that Olam gives priority to hiring locals, who make up 97% of the workforce, but dozens of immigrants have come to work at Batouri, some from as far away as Mali. Some workers say they are glad to have jobs in a country where one in five are unemployed, but others have complaints. “Working for Olam is hard. I earn 150,000 CFA francs (RM935) each month. Six days a week. We start at 6:30am to finish at 2:30pm. I leave my home at 2:00am. The pay is not good for the amount of work,” a Malian immigrant said. Gabonese Aurelien Mengue also believes that “the pay is not right”. “That’s why there are strikes,” said Mengue. Gupta said however that Olam “isn’t a company that earns money by shaving 10,000 CFA francs off somebody’s pay,” pointing out that the multinational has a turnover in the billions of dollars.
“We pay everyone who is reliable properly, but if they’re not, it’s normal that we make cuts. The problem here is one of understanding and not of the wages.”

17 May 2015: Nigeria seeks oil palm and other investment, NGOs concerned about Cross River deforestation, Ghana oil palm seeks protection, Sime Darby and others in Liberia face strikes

Nigeria: Agric Minister Makes Case for Investment in Oil Palm, Others Daily Independent (Lagos) » 11 May 2015 By Oladele Ogunsola Ibadan — In view of the comparative advantages oil palm, rice and cassava have over other crops, the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina has called on potential investors in agriculture to invest on the crops to enhance the agricultural sector, especially in the area of employment generation. This call was made by the Minister at the first investors workshop/training on modern crops processing, processors' group formation, products quality and organised marketing held in Ibadan at the weekend. Represented at the programme by the Regional Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abuja, Olalekan Quadri said: "we want investors to look at the areas they can invest in and take advantage of the different areas we have in the sector because this can ensure job opportunities". He maintained that there were tremendous opportunities in the agricultural sector, especially in the area of oil palm that could transform the lives of youths, adding that, "the ministry has embarked on what we call wild groove and re-planting operations, in other words, all old palm trees of 40 years to 50years, the ministry is now giving seedlings free so that people can begin to replace the old ones".

Nigeria: Groups Raise Alarm Over Deforestation in Cross River 11 May 2015 By Anietie Akpan Calabar — With Nigeria losing over 500,000 hectares of forest yearly to deforestation, experts have called for the repeal of the Land Use Act in the country. Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, (ERA/FoEN) Dr.Godwin Uyi Ojo, in an inception workshop on "Community Mobilization and Resistance Against Land Grabbing and Transnational Oil Palm Plantations in Cross River State" in Akamkpa on last week by ERA/FoEN-RainForest Resources Development Centre (IDRC), said this massive loss of land is against the recent globally approved land guidelines of 2012, which is intended to protect communities' right to land and forests.
He said, "on a global scale there is a growing effort to discentralised natural resource management in ways that local communities can share in the roles, responsibilities and benefits from conservation and forest management. This sort of initiative is gradually gaining roots in Ghana, Liberia, Uganda, Cameroun, where Community-Based Forest Management Systems (CBFMS) have been elaborated and functional. "In Nigeria the reverse is the case as "the forests and natural resources face severe degradation and acute problems of land tenure system, thereby depriving settlers as well as small scale farmers to marginal lands which in turn result in reduced farm yields and a cycle of poverty."
Furthermore, transnational corporation land grabbing is of huge consequence to the local economies. While it displaces local farmers and leads to land scarcity, often, the produce from large scale plantations is mainly for export and to the detriment of local consumption". .........Taking a review of on Cross River State Review of the Land Tenure System in Nigeria Executive Director, NGO Coalition for Environment (NGOCE), Chief Edwin Usang called for the development of an all-inclusive land policy, effective monitoring of the activities of companies operating in the state while Civil society should engage them effectively. .....He called on all Stakeholders must ensure effective implementation of international safeguards standards and principles. On his part, Professor Lucky Aworika who presented a paper on "Prospects of Securing Communal Land Tenure Rights: Voluntary Tenure Guidelines Versus Cross River State and National laws of Nigeria", decried land use act as it gives exclusive powers to the governors and it should be abolished. He "such powers is absolutely wrong and this can be challenged in court in view of current international best practices. The land use law act is acronistic and antiquated because it has not taken current circumstances into consideration. That law only serves the exclusive interest of the ruling class. The law is not for our interest". In this regard, the workshop recommended that the law should be expunged and done with.

Oil palm entrepreneurs call for policy intervention Business News of Saturday, 9 May 2015; Government have been asked to speedily intervene with strict regulatory and protection mechanisms to avoid risking the loss of 135,000 metric tonnes of oil palm production, and also losing the livelihoods of 290,000 farmers, oil palm entrepreneurs have said. “Ghana is a growing economy and demand for vegetable oil will keep rising, and as such the nation needs to support the sector to increase domestic production with the right policies and incentives. “With 50% low yield, high cost of infrastructure, maintenance, electricity, it is very difficult for local farmers to compete with crude palm oil (CPO) imported from the Far East without the duty protection,” Mr. Gangadhar Shetty, Head of Sales and Marketing, Ghana Oil Palm Development Company Ltd., told B&FT in an interview in Accra.  He disclosed that without protection, the economy will need about US$100million foreign exchange to enable it import the commodity. Without duty protection, the palm plantation sector tends to be non-viable and forces plantation stakeholders to freeze the operation.

LIBERIA: China Union, Sime Darby In Crises, Workers Take Issue With Employers Submitted by Cholo Brooks on Wed, 05/13/2015 - 12:16  (PHOTO CAPTION: Liberia's Labor Minister, Neto Zarzar Lighe) Trouble seems to be brewing in tow of Liberia’s concessional areas, with workers staging series of strike actions crippling the smooth operations of those companies affected. Employees of both China Union Investment, in Bong County and Sime Darby Plantation Company in Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties are said to be on strike demanding benefits from their respective employers. At Sime Darby Plantation, workers have reportedly gone strike in demand of several benefits, including salaries increment for nearly a week now.


14 May 2015: Liberia declared ebola free last week - investors to get back in full force soon?

Khor Reports: we hear that oil palm projects investors will be back in full force soon to crank back up their projects there.

Ebola Epidemic Slows Even More, World Health Organization Says By Maggie Fox; First published May 14th 2015, 1:56 am ; The Ebola epidemic is slowing even more, with just nine new cases reported in Sierra Leone and Guinea last week, the World Health Organization says.  It's a rare piece of good news in an epidemic that completely eclipses all previous outbreaks of the virus, with of 26,724 reported cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and at least 11,065 deaths. Many more deaths have not been reported, WHO says. Just last week, Liberia was declared Ebola-free after 42 days -- two full incubation periods -- without a reported case of Ebola. Now, Sierra Leone may be close to being able to start the same kind of countdown. ...

Banks and pension funds continue to bankroll deforestation and land grabs - It’s right to hold destructive palm oil companies to account, but until we look to the organisations funding their activities we’re missing an important part of the puzzle by Andrew Simms, Author, analyst and campaigner, Andrew works for Global Witness and is a fellow of the New Economics Foundation Thursday 30 April 2015 12.05 BST  Sponsored by: RSPO; Whether its food you’re putting in your mouth, or products you’re putting on your body, the probability is that half of them contain palm oil. That’s no accident, nor the result of some natural evolution in our eating habits and predilection for cosmetics. It’s because palm oil makes big profits for corporations. But it takes money to make money, and large scale investment is pushing the expansion of plantations. Take the recent example of Credit Suisse, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities and the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, which has engineered a $400m (£260m) bond issue on behalf of Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), part of the giant Sinar Mas Group.....

LIBERIA: Forest Peoples Requested to Provide Answers  Submitted by Cholo Brooks on Mon, 04/27/2015 - 19:39; Some of the questions regarding the claims GNN wanted to obtain were: 1) When did FPP conduct this study and in what communities?  2) Why does FPP use anonymous sources in its report?  3) What is FPP definition of human rights?  4) Why does FPP consider Liberian concession agreements or at least elements to be illegal?  And, has FPP addressed this officially with the Liberian government?  5) When does FPP plan to come to Liberia and embedding in the local communities?  6) What Liberian NGOs or CSOs are FPP working with?  7) Why should the Liberian people take FPP seriously since it does not operate in Liberia, but from Europe?
8) Has FPP coordinated its efforts with the Liberian government?  9) What alternatives does FPP have for employment or improved livelihoods for Liberian people?  10) Why does FPP not have an official boots on the ground approach by living with and in Liberian communities, which it claims to speak for and defend?


26 April 2015: PZ Wilmar Nigeria, Presco's investment in Nigeria, Asian and African business leaders form business council

Nigeria's path to revamping oil palm sector by Femi Adekoya on April 22, 2015

PZ Wilmar Nigeria refinery capacity 300,000 tons/year and 50m000 ha of oil palm soon  - Backward integration ‘ll cut palm oil import by $300m April 22, 2015 Written by Chikodi Okereocha; On-going backward integration plan for palm oil embarked upon by PZ Wilmar Nigeria Limited, a palm oil processing, packaging and distribution company, will help Nigeria save foreign exchange by eliminating imports to the value of $300 million per year now being spent on palm oil import, its Managing Director, Mr. Santosh Pillai, has said. The backward integration programme, which aims at making the country self-sufficient in oil palm production would also create about 9, 000 direct and 45, 000 indirect jobs,......He said: “With refinery capacity of over 300, 000 tons per year, it will reduce Nigeria’s estimated 500, 000 ton annual supply shortage by 60 per cent.”..... According to Pillai, Nigeria’s total market for palm oil is estimated at two million tons, and local output meets about 75 per cent of total. He said to close the supply gap of crude palm oil in the country, the company is working to increase the availability of locally sourced products, as well as introducing modern plantation management. He said the company has acquired 26, 500 hectares of land in Cross River State for oil palm plantation, adding that the target is to acquire 50, 000 hectares soon...... The 26,500-hectare project is part of an integrated end-to-end value chain in oil palm production and processing. The project, according to Pillai, is the result of a joint venture between PZ Cussons and Wilmar of Singapore to explore the opportunities in the agro-allied industry and in the process deliver benefits to the Nigerian economy......

Presco's Investment in Nigeria ?Hits $1bn 21 Apr 2015; The investment injected into the Nigeria economy by Presco Oil Palm plc in the past one decade has risen beyond $1 billion, THISDAY has learnt...... With the company bringing in a minimum of $100 million investment into the country annually for the past ten years, the companies total investment in the country has risen over a billion dollars during the period. Chairman of the company, Mr. Pierre Vandebeeck, explained that the investments  included procuring high quality state-of-the-art ‎equipments, automated steam turbines and a biogas plant  for power generation, oil palm processing mills, refineries  and plants and machineries.....  Vandebeeck in an interview with THISDAY, said the company is going forward by building a new refinery and oil mill that would gulp another $30 million to boost oil palm production in Nigeria. In his words: "I have not done the feasibility study yet but the cost estimate for the oil mill  is about $20 million and the refinery is $10 million summing up to a $30 million investment. A hectare of new plantation is about $6000 so multiply that to know how much we are investing every year. We are not stopping. We are like a vehicle driving very fast  all the time, although I do say should we  slow down a bit but there are so many opportunities that come up that we do not want to miss and therefore you are more or less pushed to continue investing. ‎"........"We are the only company in this industry in the world that has succeeded  in cloning rubber trees. We started two years ago and will be planting our first cloned rubber trees in Ivory Coast and Ghana because we believe through this system we will be increasing the rubber yields by about 30 per cent per hectares by 2 tonnes to 3 tonnes, but I believe it will be more‎," he said..... ‎He noted that for the past  ten years, Presco has being investing in what he described as a genetic block of oil palm having over 200 different crosses ‎and varieties from all over the world, saying that the company will propagate and make it available to anyone willing to pay the price. "We have the first result for this and five years after planting, we added 20,000,000 per hectares with an extraction rate of 29 per cent and this means we are doubling the oil yields per hectare of what is coming now.‎ We are doing the same thing ‎for cocoa because personally I believe in three crops which are  rubbber, oil palm and cocoa. We are going to produce high performing clones that are disease resistant, he said......

Asian and African business leaders form business council to boost trade, prosperity Published on Apr 21, 2015 6:45 PM; JAKARTA - INSTANT noodle producer Indofood plans to build a factory in Morocco, its sixth in Africa, this year. It is one of a growing number of Asian companies investing in the continent of late. More natural resources from Africa, such as crude oil from Angola, are also flowing to Asia. But trade between both regions remains well below its potential, and business leaders on both sides today agreed to form an Asian-African Business Council (AABC) to step up links, share know-how and boost investments.....

19 April 2015: GAR and Wilmar critiques as no deforestation polices still linked to FPIC  problems (Uganda "class action" case seeks compensation and return of homes) but companies rebut claims and TFT speaks up for its clients, Ghana seeks 20% tax on palm oil imports to encourage investment in oil palm, Ghana mill project to help women and youth unemployment

Criticism of GAR and Wilmar African oil palm projects highlight global ‘no-deforestation' challenges Friday 17 April 2015; A swathe of no-deforestation policies by major commodities producers and suppliers in recent years brought fresh hope that genuine progress to curb rampant forest destruction was in full flow.... Despite the huge efforts to attain these deals, some argue the bulk of the hard work lies ahead in monitoring and ensuring these ambitious commitments are followed through.... That is a challenging enough endeavor for palm oil giants Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) and Wilmar with their vast chain of suppliers in Indonesia. But production is global these days and both have investments in projects in Africa, the so-called new frontier of production......Both projects are covered by the companies’ no-deforestation policies and both have attracted criticism recently, particularly regarding the correct implementation of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of affected communities........ Some NGOs have suggested these persistent problems indicate no lessons have been learned from years of bad practice in Indonesia that provoked catastrophic levels of forest destruction........ A report from the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) published this month claims that Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) – a majority of which is controlled by GAR – has for several years created division and conflict among communities while developing its palm oil project in the country’s southeast “ The far greater risk is the one borne by communities duped by false promises into permanent dispossession from their lands, and the destruction of their forests, wetlands and strongly land- and forest-connected cultures." Tom Lomax, human-rights lawyer with FPP.......In Uganda, farmers from Kalangala and Buvuma Islands in Lake Victoria learned last week that they will be able to pursue a case in court where they will seek compensation and the return of their homes after their allegedly unlawful displacement three years ago in the development of a 40,000-hectare oil palm project co-owned by Wilmar....Friends of the Earth Europe, which is supporting the case, said the idea is for it to evolve into something akin to a class action with residents ....Both companies reject the latest criticisms and believe they are being unfairly targeted. Wilmar released a response to the launch of the court action in February denying it was responsible. The company also says it is investigating claims of illegal forest clearance in its Indonesia plantations said to have taken place after its no-deforestation pledge signed in December 2013....Virgil Magee, GVL’s head of corporate communications, said the company was disappointed with the FPP report and that, due to the fact the NGO researchers had not themselves been on the ground for 18 months, their claims “reflect a lack of understanding of the communities of South East Liberia or how GVL works with them.”...TFT founder Scott Poynton said that while GAR and Wilmar are “no angels,” some credit must be given in particular to GVL for its efforts to improve its operations... Criticism of GAR and Wilmar African oil palm projects highlight global ‘no-deforestation' challenges by  Greg Norman, contributor  April 16, 2015

GVL invites FPP, CSOs and NGOs to dialogue  Published: Monday, 06 April 2015 08:31
Golden Veroleum Liberia has again invited Non-Governmental Organizations to sustained fieldwork and dialogue with the company and local communities of South East Liberia....  The GVL is today the largest employer in the South East with more than 3,600 jobs providing wages, that are five times the national average, and benefits, after signing direct agreements with more than half-a-dozen communities and clans for the development of oil palm farms.... A press release for GVL says the company continues to be invited for partnerships to develop land by more communities than it is possible to work within.  GVL further continues to welcome constructive, open and direct dialogue and discourse.... It is against this background that the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) has published a press release titled “Harmful Social and Environmental Impacts of Liberia Palm Oil Project Exposed” and an accompanying report.... The company notes that regrettably, the report lacks a real and current understanding of the communities of South East Liberia, and of how its works with them.
In a press release, GVL says the authors of the report have not participated in sustained fieldwork with the communities for the past 1.5 years or more.....

Ghana: Minister calls for establishment of Palm Oil Dev’t Board 17 April 2015 Source: GNA
The Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah has called for the establishment of a Palm Oil Development Board (PODB) to oversee policies, regulations, and possible legislations in the industry. Speaking at the official launch of the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG) in Accra, Dr Spio-Garbrah said a first step would be a Palm oil stakeholder’s forum to analyse and outline the needs of the various actors, including funding options.

Ghana: Impose 20% tax on palm oil importation 11 April 2015 Source: B&FT; The economy stands a chance of raising approximately US$20million annually if government is able to impose a 10 percent adjustment tax in addition to the 10 percent ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) on importation of crude palm oil (CPO), B&FT has been told. Being a major net importer of the CPO,the country's domestic consumption is pegged at about 370,000 metric tonnes of palm oil in refined and crude form, and imports 260,000 metric tonnes of palm oil. Over the past six months, about 48,000 tonnes of sub-standard palm oil has been illegally imported into the country without appropriate duties. Nigeria, the largest producer of palm oil in Africa, produces 930,000m/t of CPO and consumes 1,430,000mt -- and has decided to protect the palm industries by imposing import adjustment tax of 25% in addition to CET tariff of 10 %, making 35% duty on importation of CPO. A total of 525,000 m/t of CPO is imported by Nigeria to supplement local production. Gangadhar Shetty, Head of Sales and Marketing of the Ghana Oil Palm Development Company Limited (GOPDC), in an interview with the B&FT said the import adjustment tax of 10% not only brings additional revenue to government annually, but also discourages import of CPO and encourages investors to develop the oil palm plantations.........

Ghana: Palm oil producers to get processing plant 12 April 2015 Source: Graphic Online; A sod-cutting ceremony has been performed at Onwane in the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam District of the Central Region for the construction of a facility to house a palm oil processing plant.... The project is being financed by the German government in collaboration with the African Union in Ostfriesland, Germany, the Centre for International Migration (CIM), the German Development Agency (GIZ) and Women and Youth Development Association Ghana, a local Ghanaian partner.... The project also includes the provision of a mechanised borehole with a standby water tank, provision of modern equipment for the palm oil producers as well as the rehabilitation of the sheds of the women who are into palm oil production.... The Chairman of the African Union in Ostfriesland, Germany, Mr Abdou Ouedraogo, said the project was to encourage more women and the youth to go into palm oil production to help reduce unemployment in the district....


18 April 2015: Congo Basin 1.6 million ha oil palm expansion worries but local communities should get greater benefits than Southeast Asians; Ebola aftermath and commodity shock damps GDP growth on FDI delays

Easter eggs, palm oil and the Congo basin  Written by  Laura Cole  03 Apr 2015; As the UK gets ready to eat millions of chocolate eggs made with palm oil, Geographical explores the global implications of our dependence on this controversial ingredient. Easter eggs are a colourful microcosm of our dependence on a very global ingredient: palm oil. A report published in 2013 by the Rainforest Foundation (UK), named and shamed the most unsustainable chocolate companies based on their palm oil content. Since then, market leaders such as Mars, Ferrero and Modelez International (Cadbury’s) have worked towards sourcing more sustainable palm oil. .... The chocolate guide was published to draw attention to the varying sustainability policies of big food manufacturers. It is part of a larger report,‘Seeds of Destruction’, which the RFUK hoped would alert the general public to the idea of palm oil companies expanding into the Congo rainforests. Since it was published, the RFUK have found that little has been done to decrease deforestation.......Most of the palm oil in our products comes from Southeast Asia, where Malaysia and Indonesia account for 90 per cent of global palm oil production. However, this is set to change. With demand predicted to outstrip supply, palm oil plantations need more land and cheap labour to expand their projects further afield. They look to the rainforests of Central and Western Africa as the ‘new frontier for palm oil’. Particularly, in the Congo river basin.........With a small-scale palm oil industry already in place, the rainforests of the Congo basin have the ideal climate and the promise of rich, damp soils. Since 2008, palm oil companies from Malaysia, France, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, US, Canada and Spain have earmarked a total expansion of over 1.6 million hectares in the Congo basin made up of substantial plantations in Cameroon, Congo, DR Congo and Gabon........'There is potential for palm oil to be a ‘sustainable’ product.' said Simon Counsell, executive director of the RFUK. 'However, for this to become reality, the industry needs to pay much greater attention to both the direct and indirect social and environmental impacts that it can have.' 'In Africa, ‘sustainability’ probably means allowing local communities a greater say in how the industry is developed and ensuring they receive greater benefits than has generally been the case in southeast Asia'

As Ebola Cases Dwindle, West Africa Turns To Economic Recovery by Nurith Aizenman April 17, 2015 5:13 PM ET
West Africa is about to receive a hefty infusion of cash. This Friday the World Bank unveiled a major aid package for the three West African countries at the center of this past year's Ebola epidemic.
Over the next 18 months, the bank plans to provide Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea $650 million in recovery assistance, mostly in the form of grants. The African Development Bank followed suit Friday with a pledge of about $300 million in similar funding.... Combined with additional new promises by other international organizations and governments, the three affected countries will be getting more than $1 billion. Those additions boost the total international commitment to Ebola recovery since the outbreak began by about a third, the advocacy group One Campaign reports.
The aid comes amid recent steady declines in the number of new cases in the region. Weekly tallies are now down to fewer than 40 cases — their lowest level since last May, when the outbreak was just beginning to gather steam.... Still, the economic and social repercussions of the epidemic continue to reverberate..... In Sierra Leone, the Ebola crisis coincided with a plunge in the price of iron ore, one of the country's major exports. The economy there could end up contracting by more than 20 percent in 2015, the World Bank estimates.Guinea's economy is stagnating. Liberia is projected to see growth rates of about 3 percent, but that's still well below the pre-Ebola estimates of 6.8 percent.........
Recently, the U.S. effort in Liberia has come under fire. The multimillion dollar effort to build Ebola treatment units was completed too late to be of much use, The New York Times reported Sunday. The U.S. deployed almost 3,000 military troops at a cost of hundreds of millions to erect 11 treatment facilities. But by the time they were ready, the caseload in Liberia had already fallen precipitously. Only 28 Ebola patients were treated at a unit built by U.S. forces....

Ebola's toll: $2.2B economic hit for W. Africa by  Donna Leinwand Leger, USA TODAY 7:23 p.m. EDT April 17, 2015 WASHINGTON — The Ebola epidemic that swept through West Africa this year sucked $2.2 billion from the economies of the three countries hit hardest by the disease, the World Bank said Friday.... Even as the epidemic comes under control, West Africa may be in for more bad economic news, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Friday in remarks with the presidents from the three countries at the IMF-World Bank Spring Meeting in Washington.... "All three countries face a second shock," she said. "The recent sharp decline in commodity prices will significantly impair prospects for recovery. Many investors are considering delaying projects, while some operating mines have already suspended their activities."...
Even as the epidemic comes under control, West Africa may be in for more bad economic news, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Friday in remarks with the presidents from the three countries at the IMF-World Bank Spring Meeting in Washington. "All three countries face a second shock," she said. "The recent sharp decline in commodity prices will significantly impair prospects for recovery. Many investors are considering delaying projects, while some operating mines have already suspended their activities."......


30 November 2014: Ebola update

Number of Ebola infections in west Africa passes 16,000;

10 November 2014: Update on KLK's EPO planting plans and status

"Kuala Lumpur Kepong’s Equatorial Palm Oil Ltd (EPO) plans to plant up to 2,500ha of oil palm in Liberia by end-2014F. This is lower than the original target of 4,000ha. EPO said that operations are continuing as normal although it is not easy to travel due to the many check points. There has not been any outbreak of Ebola in EPO’s estates. EPO has more than 1,500 employees in Liberia. Out of these, about 12 are expatriates...." - excerpt from AmBank's "Plantation Sector (Neutral): Newsflow for week 3-7 November"

2 November 2014: Supply-chain concerns, mobilization on ebola, and accusation of industrial oil palm?

How Ebola is affecting the supply chain Published Monday 27 October 2014 4:46 pm;; "The World Cocoa Foundation has donated $600,000 to fight Ebola in West Africa – money raised by its members, which include  big chocolate makers such as Mondelēz, Nestlé and Hershey.It’s not pure altruism. Almost 70 per cent of the world’s cocoa production comes from West Africa – notably: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon – countries close to the outbreak.... So far, the virus has not been seen in Ghana or Côte d’Ivoire, the two main producing countries, but, inevitably, fear of the potential impact has already had an effect on  cocoa prices.... Of course, the Ebola epidemic is not only affecting the cocoa supply chain. Liberia is a big exporter of  rubber and iron ore. Guinea’s main export is aluminium ore, while Sierra Leone is major exporter of iron ore, titanium ore and cocoa.
A group of major employers in Liberia have formed an organisation, the Ebola Private Sector Mobilisation Group (EPSMG), to help combat the spread of the virus.... The group represents 45 the largest private employers in West Africa including: ArcelorMittal Liberia, Equatorial Palm Oil, Exxon Mobil, Golden Veroleum, Putu Iron Ore Mining, Total Liberia, Monurent, Aureus Mining Company, Chevron and Price Waterhouse Coopers...."

Oil palm explosion driving West Africa's Ebola outbreak by Richard Kock  29th October 2014; "The medical response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been monstrously inadequate, writes Richard Kock. But so has been recognition of the underlying causes - in particular the explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms, and undermines local economy and traditional governance, leading to a 'perfect storm' of disease...."

8 October 2014: Liberian Rubber Farm Becomes Sanctuary From Ebola


Liberian Rubber Farm Becomes Sanctuary From Ebola By Drew Hinshaw, Oct 7, 2014; As "Ebola exploded in Liberia this year, a rubber farm embarked on a crash course on how to tame an epidemic that has killed thousands of people and derailed governments across West Africa.
One morning in March, when the first case arrived at the Liberian unit of Japan’s Bridgestone, managers sat around a rubber-tree table and googled “Ebola,” said Ed Garcia, president of Firestone Natural Rubber Company. Then they built two Ebola isolation clinics, using shipping containers and plastic wrap. They trained their janitors how to bury Ebola corpses. Their agricultural surveyors mapped the virus as it spread house to house, and teachers at the company’s schools went door-to-door to explain the disease.... “It was like flying an airplane and reading the manual at the same time,” said Philippines-born Mr. Garcia, who runs this 185-square-mile stretch of rubber trees....Six months later, Firestone has turned the tide of infections, offering a sanctuary of health in a country where cases are doubling every three weeks...."

24 Sept 2014:

Sime Darby delays Liberia palm oil mill construction over Ebola By Alphonso Toweh; Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:29pm GMT; WASHINGTON (Reuters) - "Malaysian palm oil firm Sime Darby has delayed construction of a mill for its Liberia plantation and has suspended talks to expand its planted acreage there due to the Ebola outbreak, it said on Tuesday.... More than 2,811 people have died from the disease in West Africa since the initial outbreak was identified in March, according to World Health Organisation figures. Liberia has been the country hardest hit with 1,578 deaths..... Sime Darby has one of the largest palm oil plantations in the West African country, with a planned total investment of more than $2 billion.... A contractor for Sime Darby Plantation Liberia's (SDPL) palm oil mill has been chosen and preparations for construction - initially due to be completed in mid-2015 - had already begun when the outbreak began. Dagenhar said it would resume work when the disease was under control.... The company had planted 10,035 hectares of oil palm and 107 hectares of rubber as of early this yearThough it has signed an agreement with the government to develop about 220,000 hectares of land for 63 years, it must negotiate with local communities before planting on undeveloped areas of the concession. Those talks have now been put on hold.  ..."

15 August 2014:

GAR's 2013 Sustainability Report (released 1 August 2014) reports: "In 2010, GAR decided to invest in The Verdant Fund LP, a private equity fund which owns Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Inc (“GVL”), a company incorporated in Liberia, West Africa. GVL has been granted a concession by the Liberian government to develop 220,000 hectares of land for oil palm plantations. The area will be developed over a period of 20 years in accordance with the highest standards of agronomy and sustainability, and in compliance with RSPO standards and GAR’s Forest Conservation Policy (“FCP”) commitments. Currently, four nurseries for seedling development have been established. As at end 2013, approximately 3,100 hectares of plantations had been planted. By providing technical expertise to the project, GAR will ensure that, like all our plantations in Indonesia, the oil palm cultivation in Liberia adopts good sustainability practices....."

Golden Veroleum Liberia Sees Short-Term Disruptions From Ebola By Olivier Monnier  Aug 5, 2014 2:19 AM GMT+0800; "Golden Veroleum Liberia, a palm-oil producer in the West African nation, said it expects its business operations to be disrupted in the short-term because of the Ebola outbreak. “We are operating normally; although will be somewhat impacted by restrictions introduced by the authorities and by carriers on international travel,” Virgil Magee, a spokesman for the palm-oil producing company, said in an e-mailed response to questions. The worst outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea has killed more than 800 people since March. Golden Veroleum has increased screenings for the illness at its two farms in southeast Liberia, an area not affected by the disease, Magee said. The company is curtailing domestic and international travel for non-essential staff, he added. ..."

About the Ebola outbreak:

Ebola could strike 20,000 in six weeks, "rumble on for years" - study; Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:35am GMT  By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles; "GENEVA (Reuters) - The Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect 20,000 people as soon as early November unless rigorous infection control measures are implemented, and might "rumble on" for years in a holding pattern, researchers said on Tuesday... In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, experts from the World Health Organization and Imperial College said that infections will continue climbing exponentially unless patients are isolated, contacts traced and communities enlisted.... "With exponential growth, you'll see that the case numbers per week go up so that by the second of November, over these three countries our best estimate is over 20,000 cases, confirmed and suspected cases," Dr. Christopher Dye, the WHO director of strategy, and co-author of article, told a briefing. Nearly 10,000 of those would be in Liberia, 5,000 in Sierra Leone and nearly 6,000 in Guinea, he said. But those numbers would only come about with no enhanced infection control... U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that under a $1 billion plan, he will create a special mission to combat the disease and deployed staff to the region..."

What You Need to Know About the Ebola Outbreak UPDATED SEPT. 8, 2014
By Joe Burgess, Denise Grady, Josh Keller, Patrick J. Lyons, Heather Murphy and Sergio Peçanha.

Hell in the Hot Zone By Jeffrey E. Stern, October 2014. As the Ebola epidemic rages, two questions have emerged: How did the deadly virus escape detection for three months? And why has a massive international effort failed to contain it? Traveling to Meliandou, a remote Guinean village and the likely home of Patient Zero, Jeffrey E. Stern tracks the virus’s path—and the psychological contagion that is still feeding the worst Ebola outbreak in history....

Liberia says "no more land will be taken"

Is Liberia's president going cold on the palm oil industry? TrustLaw, Source: FERN - Fri, 21 Mar 2014;; Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf speaks during an interview with Reuters in Brussels, Nov. 25, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir; ...Johnson Sirleaf’s decision appears to signal a dramatic change of heart for a leader who has signed 30 percent of Liberia’s land over to foreign investors - with 1.5 million acres allotted to palm oil companies - in a country where, as one NGO worker put it, ministers seem “drunk with the idea that international investment will bring economic recovery”.....The dispute with EPO, which began two years ago, was the latest clash between rural Liberians and companies rushing to acquire land to feed the growing global market for palm oil – a product found in around a third of products on supermarket shelves, according to one jaw-dropping estimate.....Widely reported complaints have been made against the Singapore-controlled Golden Veroleum (GVL), which holds a 350,000-hectare oil palm concession in south-western Liberia, and the Malaysian corporation Sime Darby, whose 311,187 hectare operation is in the north, and was recently the target of a suspected arson attack..... Allegations against EPO surfaced in 2012, when villagers living by the company’s Palm Bay Estate in Grand Bassa County accused the company of clearing their land and planting oil palm there without their consent. EPO insists all the land it has used has been legally acquired.
....Now, with the promise that no more land will be taken, the mood in Grand Bassa is one of elation. Whatever motivated the president’s decision – a political calculation driven by upcoming Senatorial elections, pressure from local and international NGOs, or maybe even the strength of the villagers’ case - any reversal of her position in a land where four fifths of the rural population endure hunger and malnutrition would mean trouble..... In November, the U.N.’s Panel of Experts on Liberia concluded that “large-scale palm oil development continues to pose significant challenges to peace and security in rural areas.” It’s a view echoed in the villages around EPO’s plantation.

UN report here:

Also read: Sime Darby: Liberia fire and doubt on Olam interest...

Sime Darby: Liberia fire and doubt on Olam

CIMB report on Sime Darby Bhd, "Fire destroys 200ha of estates," 20 March 2014: "We estimate that a fire, which has destroyed around 200ha of oil palm estates owned by Sime Darby in Liberia, may cost the group around RM3.6m in financial losses. This is negative although the earnings impact is insignificant. It could also possibly set back the progress of new planting in the near term. Sime Darby has invested RM300m-400m in its Liberian venture and planted 10,035ha of oil palm estates in the country..... The workers at the Bomi plantation said that the blaze was started by suspected arsonists and raged for two weeks before being brought under control... It is trying to work with the government to conduct an investigation....the cost of developing new oil palm estates in Liberia (RM18k per ha)... "

In the same report, CIMB notes, "We do not think the speculation that Sime Darby is keen on Olam is true and the group has also denied this."

Other news on Liberia (updated 26 March 2014):
Fire Destroys 200 Hectares at Sime Darby, Liberian Daily Observer,
A fire has destroyed about 200 hectares of an oil palm plantation owned by Malaysian firm Sime Darby in the northwest of Liberia, Reuters reported, ... (includes comments form Liberia newspaper readers)

Liberia palm oil project shareholder in default?

On 8 July 2013, Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) issued a default notice to Biopalm Energy Limited, part of the Siva Group. The company said: “EPO has, however, advised Biopalm that any dilution of shareholding that results from raising equity in EPO, due to Biopalm's failure to honour its Commitment, should, in EPO's view, result in a corresponding increase in EPO's share in LPD, which is, at present, held 50/50 by EPO and Biopalm as well as an award for damages for loss due to Biopalm's failure to honour its commitments under the Investment Agreement.”

Biopalm was earlier reported to have effective 63.3% stake in the Liberia palm plantation assets via a 50% JV and 13.5% stake in EPO. However, a report in Feb 2012 indicates it has a 26.71% stake in EPO, indicating an increase.

The Liberia plantation concession area is some 170,000 ha. Liberia is the centre of the largest scale oil palm FDI projects in Africa so far. Projects have been held up by land disputes. The other key players are Sime Darby and Golden Veroleum / Golden Agri.

*Please contact Khor Reports if you would like to get a copy of our info briefing on this matter, including profile of Siva Group, and various info collated on Equatorial Palm Oil.

News source:

Equatorial Palm Oil issues default notice to partner
8 July 2013 | 11:23am
The board of Equatorial Palm Oil (PAL:AIM) has issued a written notice to its joint venture partner, Biopalm Energy Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Indian conglomerate, the Siva Group) setting out that Biopalm is in material breach of its obligations under the investment agreement signed between the parties on 10 December 2010. Biopalm is required under the Investment Agreement to arrange and/or contribute, either directly or through any member of its group, any external funding required by the joint venture company, Liberian Palm Developments Limited (up to a maximum of US$30,000,000). Notwithstanding Biopalm's obligations to fund LPD up to the Commitment amount, EPO intends to continue to fund LPD and its assets in the Republic of Liberia. EPO has, however, advised Biopalm that any dilution of shareholding that results from raising equity in EPO, due to Biopalm's failure to honour its Commitment, should, in EPO's view, result in a corresponding increase in EPO's share in LPD, which is, at present, held 50/50 by EPO and Biopalm as well as an award for damages for loss due to Biopalm's failure to honour its commitments under the Investment Agreement. EPO continues to negotiate and work with Biopalm regarding the Commitment with a view to an amicable solution being reached, but has reserved all rights to take action against Biopalm under the Investment Agreement. EPO shall make further announcements regarding the above, and its continued discussions with Biopalm, in due course. Story provided by - See more at: