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Sierra Leone News: SLPMC Struggles to Meet EU Standards to Export Palm Oil to Europe

The Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Company (SLPMC) wants to export palm oil to Europe but the process of producing palm oil in the country does not meet the Roundtable Sustainable  Palm Oil (RSPO) certification, Henry Kamara, the Managing Director of SLPMC said in an interview.
The RSPO is the requirement palm oil producers must follow to export to the European market. Sierra Leone has still not done the national interpretation of the certification.
“Palm oil is of increasing concern all over the world but you have to produce it in a sustainable way,” Mr. Kamara said.
“When you cut a bunch of palm fruit, you have to process it within 24 hours. If you don’t process it within 24 hours there is going to be fermentation or oxidation, explained the MD, adding, “This will increase the acidity level in the palm oil above the RSPO recommendation. The European market will therefore not allow the exportation of the product into Europe.”
Not too many companies in Sierra Leone meet the RSPO certification. Companies like Gold Tree, SOCFIN are working towards it but the smallholder farmers that constitute the large portion of the market are finding it difficult to meet the RSPO standard, Mr. Kamara said.
SLPMC was exporting palm oil to Kenya, Somalia and the US but the palm oil the company was exporting contained high acidity level which was above the accepted limit of the RSPO. This created a setback in terms of export, he said. The way the smallholder farmer produces palm oil leaves limited space for them to adhere to international best practice.
Mr. Kamara sees palm oil as the future for Sierra Leone in terms of export. “And I could tell you this, after iron ore the next generation is palm oil,” he stressed. Sierra Leone has vast land for planting palm oil. SLPMC is committed to teach farmers how to produce palm oil to prevent oxidation and attract high end markets.
Locally, the state-owned company has outlets where it sells its products and also supplies supermarkets in the Western Area. It is working to establish similar outlets in Bo and Kenema to package and sell its products.
Friday December 11, 2015

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