Oil palm is one of the fastest growing commodities in the world, which has many usages. For Liberia, a country noted for some of its traditional commodities, like rubber, iron ore, oil palm seems to be somehow new in recent times. From the sixties up to few years back, only two key commodities were known once Liberia name was mentioned.
But today, the story is changing. At present, the world’s largest oil palm plantation, Sime Darby, entering Liberia added more value to the oil palm sector. Now, many Liberians are gradually becoming oil palm farmers.
There are many reasons for their action; some believe that the country’s economy will be greatly enhanced by investing in oil palm. These statements were once buttressed by Liberia’s Finance minister, Amara Konneh. At one of his visits to the company’s plantations, Konneh spoke of the importance of oil palm to the Economy of Liberia. Like he had stressed earlier in May at the launch of Grow-Liberia, Minister Konneh reemphasized the bountiful benefits of the agriculture sector and, specifically, what the oil palm sector promises for Africa’s oldest independent nation.
Indeed, the future of Liberia looks bright regards the oil palm sector, especially taking into consideration the number of worthwhile companies and lucrative concessions they have with the Government of Liberia. Sime Darby has a 63-year concession agreement for 220,000 hectares of land in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Gbarpolu Counties.
Golden Veroleum has a 65-year concession in the southeast—Sinoe and Grand Kru for 500,000 hectares of land. Equatorial Oil Palm (Palm Bay) has another in Grand Bassa County. Maryland Oil Palm Plantation in Maryland County has a 25-year concession agreement for 35,000 hectares of land. These four oil palmconcessions do promise a lot for the Liberian economy and with that have the potential of bettering the lives of ordinary Liberians.
This, according to Samuel Jackson, a Liberian economist, once confirmed this. “I think that oil palm will help the economy greatly. But this depends on how well the government will address some fundamental issues. Oil palm prices have plummeted in recent times. But that will not remain at that level. This has also happened to Iron Ore too. But for us in Liberia, oil palm is a new commodity. Sime Darby is a world class company and I think their presence in Liberia means a lot for the economy.”
By Richard Sambulah