By Jackson C. Clay, Jr.
A high-power delegation of the Chief Executive Officer of Conversation International (CI), M. Sanjayan, the Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Global Environmental Facility, Noako Ishii and some representatives of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) paid a one-day visit at the Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL).
M. Sanjayan & Noako Ishii of CI & Gef
The visit which was intended to ascertain the actual operations of Sime Darby Planation Liberia in the country and see how best they could be of help to the company was held Friday, May 18, 2019 at the company’s head office in Bomi County.
Making a brief presentation to the delegation during the visit, Sime Darby Cooperate Communication Manager, Toushi Itoka provided an overview of the company’s operations to the delegation.
Madam Itoka said Sime Darby which is the world largest oil palm plantation has a land bank of over a million hecters and operates in seventeen countries around the world including Liberia.
Madam Itoka said SDPL in 2009 signed a sixty-three years (63yrs) concession agreement with the Government of Liberia to develop over two hundred and twenty thousand (220,000) hecters of land within four counties in Liberia, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and Bong counties.
She however, stated that the company is currently focusing on two of the four counties, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi County as of now.
Ali Karma & Toushi Itoka of SDPL
Speaking to this paper during the visit, the Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Global Environmental Facility, (Gef) Noako Ishii, said their visit was triggered by the much information they have heard about the operations of the company in Liberia.
“Because we have heard a lot about the workings of the company, we thought it wise to come and see what the company is actually doing here in the country, because you know they always say that seeing is believing, so we thought to come and get first-hand information,” Madam Ishii said.
Madam Ishii said she is deeply impressed about the workings of the company trying to do the right things within a relatively short period amidst the many constraints faced by the company.
The Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Global Environmental Facility stated that it is a good learning opportunity for her so as to enable her think about how her group can help the company in order to realize its ambition.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Conversation International (CI), M. Sanjayan said he thinks Sime Darby is trying to do the right things but doing it is a more responsible way that can help protect the forest and develop communities.
“We think Sime Darby is trying to do the right thing in terms of developing palm oil but doing it in a responsible way that can help protect forest and benefit communities. We are here to learn about their operations and also understand how we could work with Sime Darby to make sure that forest conversation is maximize and benefit the communities,” Sanjayan stressed.
The Conversation International Boss indicated that their visit was as a result of understanding the needs of the communities, the company and the country at large, thus, CI partners with Gef to support several projects in Liberia.
He asserted that Liberia has an incredible forest, incredible biodiversity and a very raw and poor population, noting that their real objective is aimed at making sure that people have jobs and have a path to development but a path that does not destroy their forest and their environment.
However, Sanjayan stated that he hopes at the end of their visit at the company’s planation, he hopes to find how to work with Sime Darby, Gef, the communities and the government of Liberia so as to come up with a conversation and development plan for the western region of Liberia.