At long last, the Malaysian oil palm giant Sime Darby Plantation Liberia has been taken over by Mano Palm Oil Industry (MPOI), a subsidiary of Mano Manufacturing Company (MANCO). The announcement was made on Thursday at the ongoing Liberia UK forum by the Minister of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism, Mr. Eugene Lenn Nagbe.
From left L-R( Mr.Asaad R. Fadel, Senior Vice president, Mano, Minister Nangbe and Mr. Mohamad Helm Othman Basha, Group Managing Director, Sime Darby Beherd) at the Investment forum in UK on Thursday.
“Liberia is a country with a lot of potentials to offer entrepreneurs and investors looking for opportunities,” he said.
SDPL over the past two years has been facing some challenges in terms of expansion. The company signed a-63-year concession agreement with the past government of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to develop 220,000 hectors of land.
But it could not give said land to the company. Up to now, only 10,000 hectares of land have been planted and most of the discussions were carried out by the company, some community members as well as some government officials.
Late last year, the company experienced a huge lost in the tune of several thousand due to palm theft and illegal operation of mills around the plantation.
AS a result of that, the CDC led government deployed a team of security officers and confiscated several illegal mills and made some arrests. “We have to thank this government for such help. That intervention was timely,” a senior local manager at SDPL told journalists at the time.
Prior to that, the company suffered a huge set back due to the Ebola crisis.
The Minister said, the government was excited for the level of cooperation that existed between the government and SDPL.
“Two of such companies that have tapped into that potential are Sime Darby Plantation and Mano Palm Oil Industry or MPOI. Sime Darby Plantation has been a key component of the palm oil industry in Liberia, providing locals with a source of income over the last few years. The Government of Liberia has seen the efforts Sime Darby Plantation put in to boost our palm oil sector,” he said.
“So it was with a heavy heart that we received news of Sime Darby Plantation’s intention to exit their upstream operations in Liberia due to the extremely challenging commodity market conditions,” he added.
But he said, “We were extremely pleased they found another local home grown buyer, MPOI to take over their operations. MPOI has built its foot print in Liberia over the past 50 years, making it one of the leading manufacturers of soaps and detergents that contain crude palm oil (CPO).”
“The taking over of Sime Darby Plantation’s operations by another buyer means a lot for this country and our Government in particular. It ensures the level of confidence investors have in the Liberian economy. In Liberia, the Agriculture area is one sector that can improve the economy and create more jobs for Liberians. So, this is why the government sees this take over by another responsible company as the best way to stimulate the economy.
He said, “We were also heartened to hear that MPOI will incorporate the Outgrowers Scheme, a vital component in the sector that has been successful in many third world countries.
Liberia has been encouraging local farmers to take advantage of this as it makes communities self-sufficient and empowers them. Moreover, the Outgrowers’ scheme reduces the employment stress on our government.
For his part, Mr. Mohamad Helm Othman Basha, Group Managing Director, Sime Darby Beherd thanked the Liberian government for the level of cooperation that existed over the years. He said, he was happy that SDPL was able to make a good footprint in Liberia.
The parent company of MPOI, MANCO has been in Liberia for over fifty years.
MANCO is the largest manufacturer of household health and cleaning products in Liberia.
Read Full Statement of Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe here at the UK-Liberia Business Forum in London on December 5, 2019