With our operations being in some of the most remote and least accessible parts of Africa, it can be difficult to develop an accurate impression of what Feronia's is really about.
We hope that the news stories below will help develop a better understanding of how, through rebuilding this business, we are committed to improving the living and working environment of our employees, their families and their communities and to delivering on our committment to sustainable agriculture, environmental protection and community inclusion.
This section is updated regularly so please return here often to follow our progress.
The new Yaligimba Palm Oil Mill
In October 2013 Feronia opened a new palm oil mill at Yaligimba. It employs more than 150 people and is an important part of the local community and economy in this remote part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Feronia PHC harvester Manu
Manu, a harvester at PHC's Lokutu plantation, talks about his job and working for the Company.
Boat journey to one of Feronia's plantations
Feronia's operations are very remote and everything currently goes in and out via boat along the Congo River. Even in a quick boat travelling from Kisangani to Lokutu takes over 4.5 hours. By traditional pirogue, it takes much, much longer.
New Collective Agreement signed with six unions which represent over 3,600 Feronia employees
A new Collective Agreement was signed by the six unions which represent the over 3,600 employees of Feronia's palm oil business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following several months of preparation, consultation, discussions and negotiations. The negotiation process focused on achieving common ground on pay, benefits and general terms of employment for both the immediate future and longer term.
The following is the joint statement issued yesterday by Feronia and the six unions which represent the employees of PHC. following the successful conclusion of the negotiations and signing of the new collective agreement:
We are pleased to confirm the completion of formal negotiations to update the Collective Agreement.
These negotiations have been characterized by a strong sense of common purpose. All parties acknowledge the progress the business has made since Feronia acquired PHC in 2009 and the extensive rehabilitation of company operations to date. The willingness of all parties to work together has been a critical factor in progress up to this point and will continue to be an important factor as we strive towards the collective goal of building a sustainable, commercially viable business which secures member and employee livelihoods in the long-term.
As the Company enters a new phase in its development, all parties recognise that improvements to pay, benefits and general terms of employment are needed and it is against this backdrop that a number of revisions to the Collective Agreement, including increases in pay from 1 January 2015, have been agreed.
These revisions represent an ongoing commitment by Feronia to the improvement of pay, benefits and social infrastructure as the operational performance of the Company improves.
All parties are committed to working together to ensure the longevity of this business and restoring it to its former prominence in the fundamental interest of its employees, its communities, its shareholders, and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Feronia’s nurseries are irrigated by hand: while automatic irrigation systems are widely used in oil palm nurseries around the world, Feronia uses manual irrigation for two reasons:
Being less physically demanding than other plantation tasks such as replanting/harvesting, it provides employment opportunities for women
Issues relating to pests, disease, nutrients and water are quickly identified
New equipment at hospitals
Thanks to the Rotary Club of Dinant Haute-Meuse in Belgium and the Rotary NGO "Hospitals Without Borders" for their recent donation of medical equipment to Feronia’s Boteka Hospital in the Ingende Territory of Equateur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The equipment, including stethoscopes, resuscitators, blood pressure monitors and surgical instruments was presented to the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Parfait Kiyoso, by Feronia’s ESG Project Director, Pierre Bois d'Enghien, himself a member of the Rotary Club of Dinant Haute-Meuse in Belgium.
The Boteka hospital has one hundred beds and plays a vitally important role in the provision of medical care to an estimated local population of 8,000 people which includes employees, their families and residents of surrounding villages.
Consisting of several units including surgical, maternity and paediatric wards, a laboratory and a number of dispensaries, Dr Kiyoso and his 33 staff treat 3,000 patients per month. Approximately 175 patients are admitted to the hospital each month and the hospital staff deliver on average 20 babies and undertakes 20 major operations which include caesarean sections and the treatment of illnesses such as appendicitis and peritonitis.
Donations such as that made by the Rotary Club of Dinant Haute-Meuse in Belgium and the Rotary NGO "Hospitals Without Borders", play an important role in helping Feronia improve medical treatment available to local people.
Feronia has engaged pioneering design company MASS to conduct a comprehensive assessment of its social infrastructure to examine what we have, and to plan and cost out the complete rebuild of facilities of a type that our people want and need.
We are well aware that, fundamentally, everything is outdated and requires a complete re-think if we are to provide a safe, healthy and desirable environment in which to live, learn, and work.
We know that this will take time which is why we already have in place an extensive and ongoing maintenance and repair programme for our employees' houses, schools, hospitals, clinics and other facilities and infrastructure.
Water borehole project
The business Feronia acquired from Unilever in 2009 had experienced years of underinvestment and disruption and this was especially the case with the social infrastructure. Whilst there are operational boreholes on the plantations, they are insufficient and increasing access to clean safe water sources is of critical importance.
This is why Feronia is implementing a ground water project incorporating 52 boreholes across its operations in the DRC.
Improving access to safe, clean water is an important part of Feronia's Environmental and Social Action Plan (ESAP) which has been developed as a roadmap to embed community and sustainability at the heart of Feronia's business.