Following last week’s fake media publication by a local tabloid against SOCFIN Agricultural Company, the country’s largest agricultural direct foreign investors in a country where infrastructural and capital investments remain very low, the company’s management has set the record straight.
This fake news does not only seek to undermine to the company’s growth in terms of development but will also have an adverse effect on job creation and incomes for individuals, communities and the country at large.
In setting the record straight, the management of SOCFIN Agricultural Company said Sierra Leoneans should be appreciative of the immense contributions to socioeconomic development, Socfin Agricultural Company situated in Sahn Malen Chiefdom in Pujehun district, Southern Sierra Leone has brought to the citizenry, the communities they operate in and the government.
He said before Socfin started operations in Sierra Leone, they secured an Environmental Impact Assessment Licence from Sierra Leone’s Environmental Protection Agency under terms and conditions approved by the EPA Board.
EPA (SL) issues an Environmental Impact Assessment Licence for a one year period at a time authorizing companies to operate, and in the case of SAC, the license permits the development of an oil palm plantation and processing mill.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) License was first granted to SAC on 19 January 2012 that has since been renewed annually.
Any failure to comply to the certification would attract the necessary penalties and lead to the suspension, cancellation or revocation of Environmental Permit.
The conditions of assessments cover two areas: the theoretical and the implementation.
Environmental Management and monitoring reports are sent quarterly and yearly to the EPA describing every activity the company undertakes and the mitigation measures put in place (with timelines and costing) to avoid or reduce the impacts.
The reports include the program and plan on the following topics:
- General and Hazardous Waste Management
- Occupational Health and Safety Management
- Community Benefits and Development Action Plan
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Legal and International Regulatory Requirements
- Water, Soil, Air and Noise Monitoring Report
- Soil Erosion Management
- Water Resource Management
- Oil and Hydrocarbon Management
- Energy Management
- Environmental Incident Management
Established that Socfin has obtained its Environmental License since the establishment of the Company from the EPA who carries out rigorous annual audits and also carries out monitoring of quarterly audit, Socfin pays more than Le 600 million annually to the EPA for this license.
In its latest assessment before granting a license, EPA came to site in January 2020 and carried out an extensive annual audit of Socfin and it was found that Socfin was in full compliance.
The EPA is also aware that Socfin is ISO (International Standards Organization) certified in ISO 14001 in Environmental Management.
Socfin also had in March 2020 an external mock audit by RSPO whereby no issues of environmental pollution or contamination were registered or found.
Socfin is the largest palm oil producer in Sierra Leone producing 26 million liters of palm oil (26,000 tons) in 2019 and will exceed 30 million liters in 2020.
Socfin supplies Palm oil to the local refinery Kissy Industries who produce cooking oil, soap and soon margarine for the nation.
Sierra Leone having a large producer of palm oil has created the opportunity for refineries to open and produce cooking oil for the country saving tens of millions of precious foreign currency needed to buy fuel and other imported commodities over imported cooking oil, soap and margarine.
As the country battles COVID-19, Socfin is preparing together with Kissy Industries, 20,000 liters of palm oil and 50,000 bars of soap to be donated to the Government of Sierra Leone towards the combat of COVID 19.