The Chairman of the SIFCA Group of Companies and owner of the Cavalla Rubber Corporation(CRC) and the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP), Mr. Allasanne Doumbia has disclosed that work is already underway for the construction of what will be the largest oil palm mill in West Africa upon completion. According to Mr. Doumbia, the mill which will process 80 tons of fresh palm fruit daily is being constructed under a joint venture arrangement with the Golden Verroleum oil palm company.
The total cost of the project is put at US$34 million dollars and is expected to boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings from the export of palm oil. Mr. Doumbia was speaking over the weekend at payment ceremonies marking the final settlement of money owed to affected farmers of the Baraake area for the loss of their home structures. He expressed delight over the successful outcome of negotiations leading to the payment over the weekend and the start-up of the oil palm mill project.
“This morning, we met with His Excellency President George Manneh Weah. He told us how important agriculture is to him. He gave us his encouragement for our joint venture we are now preparing with GVL to build the biggest palm oil mill in the region. The project is well advanced, and the construction of the factory will soon start. I encourage all of you who have farm land to take advantage of this process”.
“The factory is a clear testimony of our confidence in Liberia. We will not want to put more money here if we didn’t know it will work. Long before the republics of Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia, our people lived and worked together and shared everything. There is no reason why we cannot emulate that now”.
Continuing he said, “currently, MOPP and CRC employ more than 2,000 people in full time jobs. Every month, we spend close to half a million dollars every month just in salary. You all know that the price of rubber has gone down massively in the past few years. The price of rubber in the world marked dropped significantly. In as much as this situation brought difficult financial times, we kept the work force and we paid the people the same salaries they were getting when things were good. That is how committed we are to the community”.
Elaborating further, Allasane Doumbia said “We support a scholarship program at Tubman University and as member of the Board, we insist that agriculture and research be emphasized. We have a very well-staffed clinic in Pleebo. We have and continue to invest in the out-grower program and we want to extend the process further, so that farmers, people who have land, can make some good income. We contribute to the social development fund in keeping with corporate responsibility. Sometimes, we even go further. Like today, the money we are giving you we do it behalf of the Government. The Government of Liberia was supposed to pay this amount but knowing the financial difficulties of the country, we are doing that for you”.
He said currently, palm fruit harvested in their concession area is taken across the border into La Cote d’Ivoire for processing noting that with the completion of the mill, all processing will be done in Liberia. He said workers are already being recruited to undergo training for the operation of the mill when completed, noting that a total of 300 workers will be required to man its operations. The proposed oil palm mill, the first of its kind in Liberia is expected to become operational later this year.