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In thriving the commercial agriculture industry in Sierra Leone… CAPPA Measures to The Task

By Aruna Bangura, PRO, CAPPA

CAPPA was formed in 2016 by a group of Commercial Agricultural Companies operating in various areas within Sierra Leone that are in the business of producing or in the process of producing Palm Oil, Timber, Pineapples & Processed Products, Agricultural Crop Seeds, Turmeric and Ginger production and processing and Alcohol for consumption and energy. CAPPA membership is open to all Commercial Agri-business and Agro-processing Companies. It aims to act as the Principal Coordinating Body representing all Commercial Agricultural Producers and Processing Companies in Sierra Leone.
Objectives of forming CAPPA include to proactively interact with its members in ensuring the interests of commercial agriculture continues to be dynamic; to meet the ever-changing needs and expectations of the agriculture industry in Sierra Leone; to stimulate greater awareness of modern farming practices through improved environmental awareness and practices, and communication between the Association, farming and agricultural communities and Government; to recognize and promote the highest professional standards; and to improve efficiencies and competitiveness for the greater good of commercial agriculture and smallholder farmers throughout Sierra Leone.

Sunbird Bioenergy (formerly Addax), Bengal Agro (SL) Ltd, Goldtree Company, Sierra Tropical Limited, Socfin Agricultural Company, African Seed Company, Planting Naturals Company and Miro Forestry Company form the membership of CAPPA.
Whilst some CAPPA members continue to invest considerable sums of money into the Sierra Leone Agricultural Sector, other members are still in their establishment phases and yet to reach their full potential. And amongst the achievements of CAPPA members in bringing sustainabilty to their businesses are thus:
⦁ Socfin Agricultural Company is close to reach full production. We are proud to report that our members strive to operate at international standards supported by best practice certifications. In 2021, Socfin invested over US$13 million in the expansion of their Palm Oil Mill to increase processing capacity from 30MT/hr to 60MT/hr on the back of the maturing palm trees and increased production.

⦁ Miro Forestry Company is proudly certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and International Standardization Organisation (ISO) certified (a requirement for all timber products being exported) to produce timber products mainly Edge Glue Board (EGB), Utility Poles and Plywood. The Company currently produces EGB for both local and export markets, and has become a major supplier of utility poles in Sierra Leone which has significantly reduced importation. In 2022, Miro will commence construction of a plywood factory investing US$15 million over the next 2 years.

⦁ Sierra Tropical Limited has invested over US$70 million since 2019 in the establishment of a pineapple farm and processing factory. In July of 2022, Sierra Tropical achieved FSSC 22000 certification allowing it to export finished goods, proudly labled, “Product of Sierra Leone” to customers in the United States, the European Union, and other global markets.

⦁ Bengal Agro (SL) Ltd is an 100% Organic Commercial Agricul Company owned by a group of Companies that invest in the production, processing and marketing of Turmeric and Ginger. Bengal Agro has invested over $ 7 million in building infrastructure,machinaries,equipments and land development.

⦁ Socfin and Goldtree Companies are now certified in Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a difficult certification requiring full environmental and social compliance. Goldtree is the first company in Africa to achieve RSPO certification and Chinese Organic Certification for palm oil produced from its own plantation and independent smallholders allowing access to a growing organic produce market with over one billion people globally including Asia.

⦁ Sunbird bioenergy (Formerly Addax) is meeting the entire alcohol demand locally while exporting to other countries, including the world’s largest beverage company, Diageo, using raw materials produced in Sierra Leone. Thus, supporting above $10million forex substitution per year. Sunbird has also finalized the technical and commercial offers to expand to invest in a Sugar crystal production house with a $36 million investment. This will be carried out upon the resumption of renewable energy supply to the national grid.

BENEFITS TO SIERRA LEONE:
⦁ Balanace of Trade
CAPPA members sell their products both within and out of Sierra Leone. During 2021, 60,000 MT of palm oil was produced by Socfin and Goldtree. Two refineries in down stream processing were established in 2019 utilizing palm oil produced by CAPPA companies for the production of cooking oil, soap and margarine to the Sierra Leonean market, saving millions of dollars by reducing imports of these commodities;the production of utility poles by Miro Forestry Company for the local market saves the country from a foreign exchange burden to purchase them from abroad. Miro also exports Edge Glue Board which also improves the country’s balance of trade; Sunbird produced over 15 million litres of ENA (Alchohol) for local and export markets, saving the country millions of dollars in foreign revenue. African Seeds produces a wide range of certified plantation seeds reducing the reliance on importation of seeds and saving precious foreign currency; Sierra Tropical started in mid 2022 the production of pineapple concentrate and processed pineapples packed in pouches for the American market. Bengal Agro is now established and producing organic tumeric, ginger and exporting to Bangladesh every year. All these products exported provides precious foreign reveune to Sierra Leone battling with a deficit in its balance of payments; and the great majority of the commodities mentioned are for export and contribute grately to the balance of trade in Sierra Leone which is a bigger importer than exporter. These products earn precious foreign currency, and CAPPA companies pay taxes contributing to the national revenue income for Government.

⦁ Employment Creation
On employment creation, all CAPPA member companies have created many employment opportunities for Sierra Leoneans. CAPPA provides over 12,300 jobs of which more than 25% are filled by women. Additionaly CAPPA provides a further 11,000 families income generating activities in outgrower and other food production schemes. To ensure the long term future of CAPPA investments and prosperity requires investing in people. CAPPA members now have Sierra Leoneans in senior management teams with over 30 Sierra Leoneans employed in management positions which will grow as more experience and skills are developed. Private companies do not compromise on intergrity and this is a key attribute that CAPPA companies require in their management teams. All CAPPA members pay above minimum wage and CAPPA is lobbying Government to increase the threshold of PAYE taxation of NLe600 for employees in order for low income earners as plantation and forestry workers to take home more of their salary payments whilst prices of basic food items have increased.

⦁ Inclusive Business Model through Outgrowers/Small Farmers
Several of the CAPPA members have embarked on Outgrower programmes. Goldtree has supported over 10,000 smallholders to gain EU organic certification. The smallholders have benefitted immensely from over 2,000ha of high yielding varieties as well as trainings in sustainable farming and their livelihoods. Miro Forestry Company has supported 10 farmers to establish 130 hectares of woodlot with an offtake agreement to buy the timber products from them when the trees are due for harvest.

⦁ Rural Infrastructure and Livelihood:
All CAPPA members have Community Development Action Plans (CDAP) and Corporate Social Responsibility projects as part of their commitment to improve community living standards. Many of these include interventions in health, education, water & sanitation, and livelihood development schemes; many improvements to road networks, creating new roads, upgrading and building new schools and clinics, scholarships, electrification of clinics, providing mechanical cultivation for larger rice farming areas, micro finance, provision of education materials, improved sanitation, wells, well-pump repairs and so on; additional economic opportunities are being created by supporting local artisans, and utilizing local contractors to carry out plantation operations; CAPPA members also place great importance on food security with over 25,000 families benefiting in a range of different interventions such as seeds for planting, mechanical cultivation and harvesting equipment; and CAPPA works towards the improvement and development of Sierra Leone and is an important Association driving commercial agriculture in Sierra Leone.

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