ABOUT GVL (General Information)
1) What is the meaning of the word “Veroleum?”
It is a combination or the words Verdant and Oleum. The definition of Verdant is green, while Oleum is the scientific name for vegetable oil. So Veroleum actually means green oils.
2) So what exactly is GVL?
GVL is a profit-oriented long-term investor; whose founders and investors hold the deep belief that Oil Palm development can and should be carried out responsibly and sensitively. Such development will ensure opportunity for environmental conservation and prosperity for local communities, while working with key stakeholders ensuring stability, sustainability and investment returns.
3) Can you give me the update on where GVL is with its concession? How many hectares have been planted and how many current employees?
GVL has planted approximately 4,500 hectares (approximately 11,120 acres) of high quality Oil Palm in Liberia. We currently employ approximately 3,300 Liberians, nearly 40% of which are women. Our goal is to employ as many as 40,000 when at full operational capacity. Currently 98% of our staff is Liberian; the remaining two percent come from Europe, America and Asia.
4) Is GVL good for Liberia?
Sustainable Oil Palm development and other large-scale agricultural development will be a central pillar in rebuilding Liberia’s rural economy and reducing poverty. In the rural southeast where economic opportunities are minimal and more than 80% of the population lives below the poverty line, GVL is creating employment and providing new sources of permanent, stable income and career advancement. We are also committed to bring infrastructural, education and health care to the communities and to help lift the overall standard of living, while helping to reduce rural poverty in the region.
5) Why have you decided to invest in Liberia?
In 2009 we identified the potential for investment in Liberian Oil Palm development, and were invited by the government to explore the potential for investment. Our concession agreement was ratified and passed into law by the Liberian Legislature and thereafter approved by the President. We consulted the local communities in 2010 and development was widely welcomed. Since, we have received numerous invitations from community groups, endorsed by Paramount and Clan Chiefs, Elders, Youth and Women’s leaders, requesting development in their local areas.
6) How and by whom is GVL funded?
GVL is a Liberian company, incorporated in Liberia and is a subsidiary of the Verdant Fund LP (“Verdant”). Verdant’s lead investor is Golden Agri-Resources (“GAR”).
7) Other than salary, educational and medical benefits, how do local communities benefit from the presence of GVL?
We are committed to benefiting the communities in which we work. Local community members around our developed sites today collect more than USD 3 million in wages, rice and other benefits every year In addition to paying rent on used or unused land, in accordance with the concession agreement, we contribute to local and Palm Oil Development Funds and taxes in the following ways:
Community Development: We pay every year 5 USD per hectare of developed land into a Community Development Fund, which is administered by local community appointees and GVL.
Oil Palm Fund: ½% of annual sales of Oil Palm products to an Oil Palm Development Fund, which is set up to further these Liberian industries.
8) What is GVL’s land development plan?
GVL will continue to develop its concession, with the approval of local communities. The actual acreage to be developed will depend on the outcome of negotiations and discussions with local communities and farmers.
GVL notes that GAR is an investor in the Verdant Fund LP, a private equity fund which owns GVL, and that GAR adopts a forest conservation policy for all the plantations that it owns, manages or invests in regardless of the stake.
As such, and in addition to its commitments to develop following RSPO Principles and Criteria, GVL will follow GAR’s Forest Conservation Policy and the Social and Community Engagement Policy.
9) We would also love the update on changes you have made/new programs implemented suggested by The Forest Trust.
At GVL we work closely with TFT in order to implement best practice in the production of sustainable Palm Oil. We believe we have made good progress in implementing methods and innovations developed by our teams or, recommended by TFT. We have addressed concerns at water and gravesites and have issued new standard operating practices for community engagement.
10) Is it correct that GVL intends to develop more than 600,000 acres of Oil Palm in Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland, River Cess, and River Gee Counties?
Our concession agreement signed in 2010 identifies these counties as areas we may work. Our objective is to develop 500,000 acres of company oil palm and a minimum of 100,000 acres additional smallholder, outgrowers and community oil palm. GVL will not touch dense forests, community farmlands or sacred sites, such as burial grounds, graves or shrines. Even outside such areas, the Southeast has huge areas of land that are not productively utilized today. For each county we work we must obtain local community consent and permission before any work or development can begin. Currently we work only in Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties.
11) Is it correct that your concession agreement is for 65 years?
Yes, this corresponds to two planting cycles, extendable by one more planting cycle, if we meet key success criteria. The development plan is in the concession agreement. It’s between 12-15 years for cycle completion for planting, then replanting at year(s) 25-30 after planting. Exact timing will depend on, communities making land available, when and where and on natural conditions such as weather patterns or cycles.
12) Are The Forest Trust (TFT) and Greenpeace also collaborating with GVL?
In 2012, GVL engaged The Forest Trust (TFT) to conduct a multi-stakeholder assessment of its community engagement processes and to recommend where it can improve implementation of its policies and procedures. GVL published the report by TFT on its independent assessment of GVL's community engagement on its website on 16 Mar 2013.
Changes to GVL Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been made as recommended by TFT and are being implemented for all new FPIC and plantings.
GVL, Greenpeace and TFT teams are currently doing extensive analysis work to further adapt the Indonesian High HSC pilot to African and Liberian conditions, including to the social factors.
13) When will the first harvest be?
Our first harvest will take place during 2015-2016.