SINOE COUNTY, Liberia – Visiting oil palm governing body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, recently met with Sinoe residents to discuss Golden Veroleum operations in Butaw, Tarjuowon, Kpanyan and other areas.
The forums where held at the Butaw Administrative Building, as well as Jacksonville and Bestnewlue Cities in Tarjuowon Statutory District. Butaw residents took the occasion to express thanks to RSPO for their visit. The residents told the RSPO that at the beginning of GVL operations in Butaw, there was a clear lack of communication between the community and the company and that the company made mistakes, but has since corrected them. The citizens also stressed that GVL has undertaken a significant Corporate Social Responsibility program bring aide where needed, reconstructing roads and bridges and an all inclusive medical policy in which no community member in medical need is turned away.
The citizens in all of their statements did mention that they wish to have preference for employment in their areas, which GVL had previously agreed to.
“In Tarjuowon citizens, in the presence of the RSPO, praised GVL for its standardized Free Prior Informed Consent process, which lasted for about two years. “We are pleased with GVL operations. It is our first time that we have seen a company like this come down to our level to talk to us. Unlike in the past, were companies didn’t consult us, but talk directly to the national government. It is because of this that we invited the company into Tarjuowon,” said one Jacksonville resident.
“When we invited GVL, the company didn’t just come in and start operating, they took the time to explain to us the positive and negative impacts of what large-scale agriculture means, We had as series of negotiation meetings and they got our consent, that says a lot about them,” said Johnny Brown, Kulu Paramount Chief. “You see the file in my hand, in this file I have every document regarding meeting minutes, invitation letters, GVL things to know, concession agreement, project summaries, and maps, so we aware of everything GVL is doing in our area.
According to RSPO spokesman, Ravin Krishnan, the exercise seeks to afford residents of GVL affected communities the opportunity to speak directly to the organization concerning GVL operations, “We want to make sure that we hear from communities themselves on what our members are doing and not just written documents. The forums where held in Butaw Compound in Butaw District, similar forums are expected to be held in Nomupoh District in Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties.