The case for replanting
The deficit in locally produced palm oil could be drastically reduced through a well-managed replanting programme. The majority of palms standing today were planted in the 1980s, due to their age, they yield less than two tonnes per hectare. If these palms were to be replanted, the yield could easily be increased five-fold. This poor productivity not only impacts local oil production, but also limits the income generated by farmers from their plantations.
The Company buys more than 90% of its fruit from the smallholder farmers that live within a 40km radius of the mill. For Goldtree, the future of the business is inextricably linked to its smallholder suppliers. For this reason, the Company intends to support smallholders in the mill catchment area to replant their old palms and to replace them with good-quality, high-yielding seedlings.
Overview of proposed programme
Over the next five years, Goldtree proposes to kick-start the regeneration of smallholder oil palms in Sierra Leone by facilitating the replanting of 1,000 hectares of old palms owned by small farmers within a 40 km radius of its mill. One thousand hectares of palms, yielding a modest 10 tonnes per hectare when mature, will produce over 200,000 tonnes of fresh fruit over their economic life. This fruit would generate an estimated income of US$ 15 million for small farmers at current prices and, after processing, would result in 40,000 tonnes of additional palm oil for the local market.
This first phase of replanting 1,000 hectares commenced in 2015 and will be completed by 2017. The replanting for each individual farmer will be phased, in order to minimise negative impact on household incomes. The environmental impact of the programme will be mitigated by complying with the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) best practices, which specifically prohibit deforestation. Selection criteria for programme participants will be finalised through detailed discussions with stakeholders and will include the size and profile of each farmer’s plantation, historic sales of fruit to the mill and the farmer’s commitment to implementing programme-recommended best practices.
Goldtree is seeking funding partners for this initiative. This is a unique opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the private sector to rebuild the livelihoods of small rural farmers in Sierra Leone and enhance food security in this Ebola-affected area.
Please contact Sarah Marchand, Programme Director – AAF TAF at email@example.com for more information, or to schedule a discussion.