GANTA, NIMBA COUNTY, LIBERIA-The National Bureau of Concession, in collaboration with VOSIEDA West Africa, has concluded a two-day national stakeholders’ dialogue on Oil Palm Concession Value Addition and Local Content Diversification.
The two-day event was held under the project: “Sustaining Peace & Reconciliation through Land Governance and Dispute Resolution Mechanism,” with support from the World Food Program, UNDP, and UN Women amongst others.
It brought together concession companies, including Arcelor Mittal Liberia, Golden Veroleum Liberia, Maryland Oil Palm Plantation, members of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform, and Civil Society Organizations.
Other ministries and agencies at the event included Finance and Development Planning, Mines and Energy, Gender, National Bureau of Concession, the Liberia Land Authority, etc.
Speaking at the end of the program Tuesday, May 2, 2023, the Director General of the National Bureau of Concession (NBC), Edwin Dennis, called for a harmonious relationship between the affected community and concession companies.
He added that sustaining peace between the two parties through amicable resolution promotes a safe working environment for all.
The NBC Boss noted that the move will also increase employment opportunities, productivity, and efficiency at workplaces nationwide.
Mr. Dennis, at the same time, assured affected communities that their right to form part of future concession agreements as guaranteed by the Land Right Act will be protected.
“The NBC, LLA, and partners will ensure that concession companies create additional opportunities for you. We are all in this together, because if we don’t have peace in our communities where we have our employment, then, those businesses will close-we need a cordial relationship between affected communities and concessionaires,” he added.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the LLA, Adams Manobah, wants the Government to embed affected community interests into Concession Agreement.
He added that if that is done, the affected communities will claim their benefits without any confrontation with concessionaires. “My point is, Government should imbed the interest of the community or the land owners into the concession agreement so that the National Bureau of Concession or the Government can also hold the company responsible,” he said.
Chairman Manobah disclosed that with this, any failure on the part of the company will mean a threat to the Mineral Development Agreement or Concession Agreement.
He added, “The Liberia Land Right Act provides that the community must have at least 5% interest in a large-scale land-based investment.”
For her part, the Program Development Officer of VOSIEDA, Amanda Yarsia, pledged her entity’s commitment to collaborating with other partners to impact the lives of vulnerable people within concession communities.
She said: “Economically, concession companies operations are the source of job opportunities, development, and increase in national income, but land disputes related to overlapping boundaries, land ownership, conflicting claims, and land grabbing are mostly between community and concessionaires.”
She noted that communities, in general, are mostly affected by concessions, due to lack of transparency in allocating land to concession. She urged the participants of the National Stakeholders’ Dialogue, including concessionaires, members of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform, and Civil Society Organizations to implement the outcome of the event.
Golden Veroleum Liberia Vice President for Strategy and Stakeholders, Elvis Morris, expressed gratitude to the organizers and partners for bringing face-to-face the major actors in the Oil Palm Sector.
Mr. Morris maintained that holding such dialogue with stakeholders in the sector would help to remedy the continuous conflicts between affected communities and concessionaires.
He, at the same time, called on the National Bureau Concession and others to ensure that a follow-up dialogue is held to ascertain progress being made from the previous dialogues.
At the stakeholders ‘dialogue, the Liberian Government delegation to Ghana recently also shared their experiences on sustainable Oil Palm Production and the need to domesticate such in Liberia.
Participants in the program, including members of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform and Civil Society Organizations, advanced several suggestions and recommendations on the creation of additional job opportunities for inhabitants of affected communities through livelihood empowerment.
By: Sampson David