—Liberia’s J-Palm, Ghana’s 8 Degrees North team up to support palm farmers in Liberia, Ghana
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of J Palm Liberia, Mahmud Johnson says smallholder palm farmers in Liberia will now have attractive prices for their products, as a result of a US$1.1 million dollar grant provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support an alliance that gives smallholder farmers access to the growing organic palm market.
The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) awarded the $1.1 million co-investment grant to 8 Degrees North, a Ghanaian palm oil processing company, to support smallholder farmers in West Africa to access the growing market for organic palm oil in the United States.
According to a release from 8 Degrees North, the co-investment project will considerably boost profits for smallholder farmers and increase the value of exports from the region, while creating over 6,000 new jobs in the beneficiaries’ countries, Ghana and Liberia.
The release said that 8 Degrees North will leverage the Trade Hub’s co-investment grant to back an alliance with multiple partners seeking to address the challenges of process upgrades and organic certification in West Africa’s palm oil industry.
He made the disclosure to the Daily Observer, recently in an exclusive interview at his office in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
A critical investor and member of this alliance, Pacha Soap Co., a U.S.-based natural soaps company committed to ethical sourcing, the release said. It further narrates that Pacha Soap will assist both 8 Degrees North and J-Palm, a Liberian palm kernel oil company in the alliance, to secure organic accreditation for their two mills, which will allow smallholders in the two countries to get better prices for their palm fruit.
The company will also source ingredients for its products directly from 8 Degrees North and J-Palm, strengthening the supply chain for each company and further boosting smallholders’ incomes, just as crucial to the alliance’s success, the release continued.
Accordingly, Pacha Soap will leverage its relationship with major retailers in the United States to advertise and market 8 Degrees North and J-Palm’s certified palm oil and palm kernel oil, capitalizing on the untapped potential for a diversified supply chain of palm oil sourced from organic smallholder plantations in West Africa.
Mr. Johnson has said that the partnership will seek to make those global supply chains improve the lives of smallholder palm farmers.
“The idea behind this partnership is to create an opportunity for smallholder palm farmers to increase profits to enable them to reduce poverty, something that big palm companies are not providing,” he said.
“Big palm companies are making billions of dollars, but the benefits so not accrue to small-scale farmers,” he added.
Mr. Johnson said his organization is working with palm farmers in Liberia by providing equipment to process their palms, as well as buying the products.
“We are supporting farmers with mini processing mills in 20 communities in Bong County to eliminate the manual processing of palm. This is helping the residents to attract more oil from their palm due to the capacity and efficiency of the mill. Today, the farmers no longer worry about where to market their palm products,” he added.
Mr. Johnson thanked USAID for the grant and promised to work with palm farmers in Liberia to obtain better profits from their palm products in order to support their families.