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Sunday, 05 September 2010 16:41

Govt Signs $1.6 Billion Agreement to Develop Oil Palm Industry

MONROVIA, Liberia, September 5, 2010(Liberian Government) - The Government of Liberia ("GoL") and Golden VerOleum (Liberia) Inc. ("GVL"), September 2, announced a partnership for the cultivation of sustainable palm oil by the company and by Liberian smallholders and farmers, mill processing and value-added manufacturing.


The investment is expected to total US$1.6 billion, creating more than 35,000 direct jobs and building a whole new economic sector in Liberia's southeastern counties.

GVL is incorporated in Liberia and is a subsidiary of the Verdant Fund LP ("Verdant"). Verdant's initial and lead investor for this project is Golden Agri-Resources ("GAR").


Apart from GAR, Verdant is expected to receive funding from other investors to meet its targeted US$1.6 billion investment amount. Additionally, GVL will draw on GAR's expertise and more than 20 years of experience in Indonesia, where GAR cultivates more than 400,000 hectares (1 million acres) of oil palm.


GVL will be managed by a Liberia-dedicated, experienced management team while GAR will maintain its plantations operational focus on Indonesia and provide technical expertise to GVL.


GoL and GVL are commemorating the partnership by establishing the VerOleum Scholarship Fund, with an initial award of US$100,000 in the first year, to be followed by annual awards. The scholarship will provide education, training and employment for outstanding Liberian students pursuing a career in agriculture.


"Sustainable palm oil development will be a central growth pillar in rebuilding our economy and reducing poverty. It will not only provide income and create employment for our people; oil palm plantations will also provide infrastructure and education to the workers in those estates and lift the overall standard of living.


We are excited about our partnership with GVL and by GAR's investment. As a leader in the industry, GAR has a proven track record of large-scale palm oil production and best practices to achieve high productivity and at the same time maximize preservation of both high conservation value areas and biodiversity," said Dr. Florence Chenoweth, Liberia's Minister of Agriculture at the signing ceremony.


GAR's Chairman and CEO, Mr. Franky Widjaja, highlighted, "We are fully committed to sustainable palm oil development and understand that this is the same ambition that the Government of Liberia shares. With such a common ground, we believe that we can work together to develop the palm oil industry into becoming one of the main pillars of growth for Liberia."


Matt Karinen, Chairman of GVL, said, "The partnership is a major step for Golden VerOleum and Verdant. To participate in the development of one of the fastest improving countries in Africa is something we are very excited about.


The VerOleum Scholarship Fund also signifies our deep commitment to playing a part in the development of Liberia.


We believe that this will give opportunities for outstanding students to be identified and nurtured through our scholarship, and we look forward to employing successful candidates after they have finished their studies.


Furthermore, we expect to make a major positive contribution to the environment. Today, and for more than 20 years, Liberia is being deforested by slash-and-burn agriculture, driven by rural poverty. By offering employment, smallholder programs and making the degraded land productive, we hope to slow down and stop the deforestation." 


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