Monrovia – Key players of the oil palm sector have recommitted themselves to promoting sustainable oil palm production in Liberia.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
They made the pledge at a two-day workshop for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) National Interpretation Working Group (NIWG).
RSPO is a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to promote the production and uptake of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO).
Solidaridad, through its Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Program (SWAPP), with funding from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra, Ghana, is supporting the National Oil Palm Platform of Liberia (NOPPOL) and the Government of Liberia to actualize the RSPO National Interpretation for Liberia.
The process is driven by a National Interpretation Working Group (NIWG), comprising institutions from the private sector and the Government of Liberia.
National Oil Palm Platform of Liberia comprising of multi-stakeholders of the sector including private, government and civil society groups implements the mandate of the RSPO.
Deforestation, wildlife extinction, loss of communities, land-grabbing and unfair trade continues to swirl in the oil palm sector in Liberia, particularly between smallholder producers and concessional plantation.
At the opening of the event in Monrovia recently, the Director General of the National Bureau of Concession, Gregory Coleman said the national interpretation of the RSPO principle and criteria is very key to addressing most of the challenges the palm oil sector is faced with.
The RSPO has two certification systems which are the principle and criteria (P&C) that ensures palm oil is produced sustainably, and supply chain certification that ensures the integrity of the trade in unsustainable palm oil.
In addition, P&C ensures that the fundamental rights of land owners, local communities, plantation workers, and small farmers as well as their families are respected and fully taken into account.
Mr. Coleman noted Liberia is at the right time to correct all of the missteps in the past to make the palm oil sector viable; and the national interpretation of the RSPO principle and criteria for Liberia is key in making that happen.
He expressed hope that by the end of the year, Liberia will complete the draft of the national palm oil strategy which should be a guiding document to the improvement of the palm oil sector.
He said Liberia may not have been among the initial contributors of climate change, “We have equal responsibility as citizens of the planet to make sure that we do not make the mistakes that other people made.”
Also speaking, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Robert Fagans lauded Liberia’s developmental partners including Solidaridad and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the workshop.
Mr. Fagan called for a concerted effort in improving the sector to be be on par with other countries in the sub region.
“We have some of the largest concessions in this country. It is only necessary to ensure that we put system in place to feel their impact,” he said.
“I am calling on all of our major stakeholders that it is important for us to add value to what we do to move this sector forward. We should support our farmers, boost their morale and make them to meet the needs of the small farmers to meet the demand of the market,” he urged.
Giving the overview earlier, the Platform Coordinator of NOPPOL, Galah Toto said one of the key milestone of the platform is the development of a road map that will guide the activities of the National Oil Platform of Liberia including the development of the draft national oil palm strategy.