Sierra Leone is a country steeped in history, being one of the first African nations to receive freed slaves in 1787, and taking its capital cities namesake Freetown, as a result. Sierra Leone is one of the least developed countries in the world, with high illiteracy and unemployment rates and few opportunities for economic development. Successive civil wars and the recent Ebola outbreak ravaged this small developing African country. But despite these challenges, the prospects for the future are good, agriculture is seen as a hugely important economic recovery plan, creating skilled farming jobs and embracing the cooperative farming model by creating supply chains and access to markets for these landlocked farmers with no way to add value or access markets otherwise.
Kevin Godlington worked in Sierra Leone during and after the civil war, and merged his Sierra Leone operations into Natural Habitats Group in 2014. Natural Habitats expanded its farmer and owned plantation network to create the largest organic palm oil operation in Africa. In 2019, the group split and a new company was born, Planting Naturals, which solely concentrates on European customers and African farmers. With several growing and processing areas, Planting Naturals works with upwards of 9,000 smallholder farmers and is actively converting conventional agricultural land to organic, providing many economic opportunities, community support and a positive environmental impact that can be felt by thousands of people across the country.
As an area that has survived civil war, the ebola crisis and is one of the poorest countries in the world, Sierra Leone is a country that is ready for opportunity, and the results of organic palm oil production have had real, tangible impacts on the livelihood of native peoples. It provides hope to a nation that has suffered through difficult times, and through the creation of jobs that pay an organic premium and social programs that support communities, the Natural Habitats organic palm oil operations provide measurable benefit to the farmers and workers it employs, and helps elevate the living conditions of their families.
Key Areas of Focus
Planting Naturals is creating sustainable livelihoods in Sierra Leone through organic palm oil production, proving that palm oil can be grown for good. The team is focused on continuous positive impact, and is leaning into the following areas:
Planting Naturals currently operates in several areas across the country of Sierra Leone and has formed strong relationships with the government, small farmers, and local peoples to develop a sustainable, organic palm oil model that will positively benefit the environment and local communities where it is grown.
To ensure Planting Naturals organic palm oil complies with the highest standards, we have a team of agronomists continuously working with our farmers to comply with and exceed our third party certifications, including organic. Additionally, Planting Naturals is working closely with the RSPO standard to ensure the highest level of certification of farmers and owned plantations.
Planting Naturals supports a number of social projects. Some of the social projects Planting Naturals implements on the ground in Sierra Leone include employment programs to create jobs for local people, reducing poverty and allowing children to go to school, as well as community food security project, which helps provide healthy food and nutrition education for local communities, regardless of income level.
Planting Naturals is dedicated to providing the highest quality, organic palm oil possible, and has made significant investments in the supply chain to ensure the highest quality controls we can.