Goldtree is located near Daru in Kailahun District in Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province. Since 2007, the company has succeeded in establishing a small plantation and rebuilding an abandoned palm oil mill that serves thousands of farming families. This has led to the revival of the oil palm industry in the province.
Goldtree has modernised the mill in Daru to operate to exacting organic purity standards. Around 10,000 farming families in a 40-kilometre radius supply their excess and growing fruit volumes to Goldtree through the company’s own buying agents and enterprising local transporters. This supports thousands of families in the rural community and ensures they receive a fair price for their product. Goldtree further pays a premium to those farmers who have attended free training on the appropriate farming practices to operate sustainable organic agroforestry. Further training is scheduled to include all farmers in the registration process. The company operates a demonstration plantation surrounding the mill as well as planting plots among neighbouring villages, providing practical, concrete guidance of modern yet sustainable practices.
The rapid transition from a defunct mill to an operational plant and restarting the outreach to communities and farmers was made possible with the support and assistance of the African Agriculture Fund (AAF), the Finnish Fund for Industrial Co-operation (Finnfund), and recently joined by Planting Naturals – Natural Habitats Europe-Africa. Natural Habitats is a pioneer in strictly organic palm oil, opening export markets to Europe and elsewhere and making fair, increased prices possible for the farming families.
To improve the skills and productivity of outgrower farmers, the company has taken advantage of the AAF’s Technical Assistance Facility (TAF). TAF is a Euro 10 million grant fund available to businesses in which AAF has invested, to provide appropriate technical assistance. TAF was funded by the EU, managed by IFAD and implemented by TechnoServe.
The following projects were successfully implemented:
– Road development programme – a project to map and prioritise road rehabilitation and maintenance in the Goldtree fruit-print.
– Outgrower support programme – a two-year project that focuses on organising and training farmers, as well as improving their access to high-quality farm services (such as harvesting, pruning and transport). The formation of an Oil Palm Growers Association is being supported as part of this project.
– Outgrower replanting strategy – developing a strategy for funding a replanting programme for outgrowers.
AAF TAF closed at the end of October 2018 after completing its seven-year implementation programme. An impact brief was finalised, which captures TAF’s accomplishments, and lessons learnt from 2011 to 2018. The report is supported by a repository of project outputs and is accessible online at www.aaftaf.org