GROW is a private sector development initiative operating in Liberia to promote pro-poor economic growth and stability through partnerships with the private sector. GROW is a 5-year Sida-funded programme that utilises the ‘Making Markets Work for the Poor’ (M4P) approach. The programme seeks to contribute to sustainable peace and poverty reduction through inclusive and integrated economic development in Liberia. Its objective is substantially increased incomes and employment opportunities for a large number of poor women, men and youth, created through agricultural market system change.
Liberia’s Oil Palm Sector
As documented in GROW’s Market System Analysis, the oil palm sector, which is in its early stages as a major agricultural investment, is expected to be of vital importance to Liberia. The Liberian oil palm sector is dominated by multinational oil palm producers that have been granted significant concessions by the Government of Liberia (GoL). In the Concession Agreements, the GoL has committed itself to raising development finance to establish outgrower schemes. Similar to other countries that previously established large-scale outgrower programmes, e.g. Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, major initial financing is expected to be arranged through international development finance institutions (DFIs) rather than from the GoL’s over-stretched resources.
Little progress has been made in promoting investment and raising finance for community oil palm outgrower schemes since the four large international concessions began operations in Liberia in 2010. This is a systemic constraint to smallholder farmers benefiting from growth in Liberia’s oil palm industry. Their limited commercial involvement in the sector is a source of conflict and insecurity, which has a mutually reinforcing relationship with poverty.
In addition, there is significant pressure on oil palm concessions from communities around which they operate to generate jobs as fast as possible. The perceived slow pace of job creation has been a driver of conflict between local communities and concessions and is often the root cause of conflicts ostensibly focused on other issues.
The way forward
The successful raising of finance to fund pilot oil palm outgrower schemes requires the establishment of:
(a) an Oil Palm Outgrower Scheme Operational Model and Financial Plan agreed to by the GoL, concession-holders, and local communities that will participate in the pilot outgrower schemes;
(b) an integrated agricultural production model and budget component to promote the sustainable management and conservation of outgrower scheme communities’ surrounding forests;
(c) an approach to social inclusion of the communities that promotes non-conflict participation in economic development; and,
(d) a mechanism for local governance to ensure successful implementation of the pilot outgrower schemes and to promote community stability.
The key deliverable is a robust Oil Palm Outgrower Scheme Operational Model and Financial Plan that takes into account Liberia’s unique cultural and land tenure context. The output will be informed by best practice and lessons learned from oil palm outgrower schemes in different parts of the world, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and elsewhere in Africa, wherever there are success stories and lessons learned. The Operational Model should present ideas and recommendations backed by practical examples and field evidence wherever possible. It should also show, with local evidence, how concessions and smallholder farmers will be able to profitably operate their businesses in a stable environment.
The following issues should be taken into account in the design of the Oil Palm Outgrower Scheme Operational Model:
- Job creation, income generation and poverty alleviation for smallholder oil palm farmers and community members, including complementary agricultural work, and associated trades and professions;
- Skills transfer from oil palm concession-holders to smallholder oil palm farmers;
- Access to inputs, extension advice, and finance for smallholder oil palm farmers;
- The need for integrated agricultural production and sustainable forestry management within oil palm producing communities.
The Operational Model must provide clear proposals based on practical examples and field evidence from other successful programmes, as to:
- The definition of an outgrower, and the recommended average plot size;
- An integrated agricultural production and sustainable forestry management programme within oil palm producing communities;
- Recommendations for ensuring inclusive outgrower model development, directly providing benefits to youth, women and other groups;
- Recommendations for farmer organisation, land tenure and user rights in relation to both current and proposed Liberian land legislation, in particular the Land Rights Act now before the legislature;
- How outgrower and community livelihoods and incomes will increase through a formal relationship with oil palm concession-holders;
- How to create permanent employment for community members and, in particular, women and youth.
To include, but not necessarily limited to:
- Senior-level internationally recognised oil palm outgrower scheme design and management expert;
- Senior-level internationally recognised oil palm outgrower scheme financial/costing expert;
- Integrated agricultural production and sustainable forestry management expert;
- Experienced international RSPO FPIC process expert.
All consultants must conduct the majority of their work in Liberia. They must have a working understanding of Liberia and/or include a local partner who understands the local context.
The closing date for applications is 12th February 2016. Please email [email protected] to request a full Terms of Reference for this consultancy prior to submitting a proposal.