Socfin Agricultural Company, the leading agrobusiness development company operating in Pujehun District, southern Sierra Leone, has reportedly helped Sahn Malen Chiefdom with basic amenities for chiefdom residents, as part of its corporate social responsibility.
The company has constructed schools, health centres, boreholes, community ‘barrays’, mosques, public toilet, and installed street lights and constructed roads. Because of the presence of Socfin, Sahn Malen chiefdom can now boast of a bank – with GTBank – which operates in the community.
The company also gives micro-credit loans to women’s group engaged in business, which has helped improve livelihoods, thus empowering local women.
Easmond Moiguah, Public Relation Officer of Socfin, told this reporter that the palm oil company started operations in 2011 with the aim of developing Sahn Malen chiefdom in the Pujehun district through oil plantation and processing plant.
A total amount of Le.31 billion was paid to land owners as compensation for economic trees for a total concession of 18,481 hectares, for which an annual lease payment amounting to US$228,236 is paid every year, he disclosed.
He said the project employs over 2,460 seasonal workers to support plantation operations as well as a further 1,091 permanent workers, making an aggregate of 3,551 workers. Most of the workers are from the surrounding communities.
“However, our mill systems are in limited operation as they are currently being tested and optimised. The mill has the capacity to process 30 tonnes of FFB per hour, while power for the mill is provided by a steam boiler that runs on fibre and shell from the FFB. Steam is used for processing and to run a 12MW power generator,” explained Moiguah.
The Public Relation further explained that the company commenced clearing and planting in 2012 until August 2015, adding that palm trees planted in 2012 have started producing fruits.
Moiguah said a Grievance Committee was created in 2012 to ensure transparency in addressing grievances and represents all stakeholders in the Malen chiefdom.
Aminata Sowa, chairlady of constituency 88, said Socfin is a blessing to Sahn Malen chiefdom because they provide micro-credit loans to women and have constructed a market for farmers engaged in oil plantation.
A pupil of Malen Junior Secondary School, Hadji Lahai, praised the company for awarding scholarship to pupils. “My parents used to struggle to pay my school fees, but this is now history,” he said.