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Global palm oil planter to invest $1.6bn in Sierra Leone deal

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Major palm oil grower Golden Veroleum plans to invest up to $1.6 billion in Sierra Leone in what promises to be the second largest investment in the industry here.

The subsidiary of the US-based Verdant Fund LP, which is controlled by the Singapore-listed palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources, is eying over half a million hectares of land eventually. But Golden Veroleum director David Rothschild said in Freetown they will start with 20,000 hectares.

“We are negotiating a 50-60 years lease agreement with the government and locals in the South and Eastern Regions, especially Kenema and Pujehun districts," he was quoted saying in a statement released by the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) on Thursday.

"Our initial investment will focus on building the required Infrastructure on the land for the construction of an oil mill at the company site,” he said.

Increasing demand for biofuels has made palm oil production a lucrative venture. The commodity is also a popular vegetable oil used in the manufacture of margarine and soap, among other products.

Annual production around the world are said to be worth about $20 billion.

Golden Agri-Resources is the world's second-largest palm oil plantation company. Through Golden Veroleum, it controls the largest palm oil operations in Liberia where in 2010 it promised to invest $1.6 billion to develop over 220,000 hectares of plantations.

Sierra Leone and Liberia form a major part of what is called the new frontier for palm oil production in West Africa.

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Posted: 9 months 1 week ago by salontiti #41231
salontiti's Avatar
[sigh....] i know....that too is a contributing factor to agric-business problems. but the controversy is glossed over or ignored in the name of development and jobs.
Posted: 9 months 2 weeks ago by otolo #41230
otolo's Avatar
... and what of the land grabbing controversy..?
Posted: 9 months 2 weeks ago by salontiti #41229
salontiti's Avatar
We need to be cautiously optimistic about these ventures. Expanding agribusiness in Salone is a double-edged sword, much like the way it is in other countries. Techniques and resources are certainly needed beyond those used in subsistence farming. But I'm concerned these massive investments and expansions in agriculture will lead to prioritizing corporate interests over food security and environmental concerns in Sierra Leone. What we've seen for the last 50 years with cash crops is evidence that agribusiness needs substantive regulation and accountability, that benefits locals, not just use them to serve foreign market interests.

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