By Abubakarr Harding
The Commercial Agricultural Producers and Processors Association (CAPPA), is an entity that was formed in 2016 by a group of Commercial Agricultural Companies operating in various areas within Sierra Leone.
Since its inception, the Association has provided over 12,300 jobs nationwide of which 25% of the beneficiaries are women. CAPPA members now have Sierra Leoneans in senior management teams with over 30 Sierra Leoneans employed in management positions which will grow as more experience and skills are developed.
It must be noted that the Commercial Agricultural Companies are operating in various areas within Sierra Leone with some in the business of producing and others in processing process of produce or products such as palm oil, timber, pineapples & agricultural crop seeds.
CAPPA’s membership is open to all commercial Agri-business and Agro-processing Companies with the aim of acting as the Principal Coordinating Body representing all Commercial Agricultural Producers and Processing Companies in Sierra Leone.
The membership of CAPPA comprises Socfin Company, Miro Forestry Company, Sierra Tropical Company, Goldtree Company, Sierra Tropical, Sunbird Company, and Bengal Agro SL Limited which continue to invest considerable sums of money into Sierra Leone’s agricultural industry.
During 2021, 60,000 tonnes of palm oil were produced by Socfin and Goldtree for the local market; two refineries in downstream processing were established in 2019.
It must be highlighted that the dependence on palm oil produced by CAPPA companies for the production of cooking oil, soap and margarine to the Sierra Leone market saves millions of dollar by reducing the importation of those commodities. The production of utility poles by Miro Forestry Company for the local market saves the country foreign exchange which could have been used to purchase them abroad. Miro also exports Edge Glue Board which also improves the country’s balance of trade.
In the area of inclusive business model, several of the CAPPA’s members have embarked on out-grower programs. Goldtree has supported over 10,000 smallholders to gain EU organic certification. The smallholders have benefitted immensely from over 200ha of high-yielding varieties as well as training in sustainable farming as well as improved livelihoods. Miro Forestry Company has supported 10 farmers to establish 130 hectares of woodlot with an off-take agreement to buy the timber products from them when the trees are due for harvest.
Further to all of these achievements, the membership of CAPPA also prioritizes livelihood support to inhabitants in their localities. To start with, all of CAPPA members have Community Development Action Plan (CDAP) and CSR projects as part of their commitment to improve community living standards. Many of these include interventions in health, education, water & sanitation and livelihood development schemes.
Many improvements to road networks, creating new roads, upgrading and building new schools and clinics, scholarships, electrification of clinics, providing mechanical cultivation for larger rice farming areas, micro finance, provision of education materials, improved sanitation, wells, well-pump repairs etc have been rolled out.
Additional economic opportunities are being created by supporting local artisans and utilizing local contractors to carry out plantation operations.
CAPPA members also place great importance on food security with over 25,000 families benefiting in a range of different interventions such as seeds for planting, mechanical cultivation and harvesting equipment. It membership works towards the improvement and development of Sierra Leone and is an important Association driving commercial agriculture in Sierra Leone.