Feronia prides itself on being the guardian of our 105 year-old palm oil business and a force for good in the way that we employ people, manage our plantations and support local communities.
We are committed to supporting the long term growth of the DRC and at the heart of this lies our responsibility towards sustainable development. We know that operating in a resource effective way, protecting the environment, taking care of our workforce as well as being a catalyst for wider community development makes sense for the longevity of our company – and that this will have a lasting impact beyond our business.
Huileres du Congo Belge (HCB) founded by Lever Brothers. Boteka plantation established
Lokutu plantation established
Yaligimba plantation established
Belgian Congo gains independence and becomes Zaire. HCB become Plantations Lever au Zaire (PLZ)
The Yaligimba Research Station is established. A programme of oil palm seed breeding and innovation commences. It still continues today.
Prolonged period of conflict begins in the Country and region. The gradual decline of the business commences.
Zaire becomes the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). PLZ becomes Plantations et Huileries de Congo (PHC)
DRC transitional government inaugurated
First democratic elections held in the DRC
Feronia acquired PHC, a business in critical state, from Unilever
Feronia immediately begins the large scale and long term rehabilitation and restoration of PHC, its existing plantations, palm oil mills and social infrastructure.
Feronia announces strategic investment from Phatisa’s African Agriculture Fund.
Feronia announces investment and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) loan from CDC Group plc, the UK’s development finance institution. Feronia and CDC develop Environmental and Social Action Plan (ESAP) and commence it implementation.
Commitment towards Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is made.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Board Committee formed to oversee all ESG aspects of the business and that ESG policies are implemented.
Programme of repair and upgrade to hospitals and worker housing on PHC plantations commences using local PHC construction teams.
Feronia and six unions representing over 3,600 employees sign new collective agreement detailing improvements to pay, benefits and general terms of employment.
Feronia commissions an Environmental and Social Assessment (ESA) of PHC and wider communities.
Feronia signs debt finance agreement with European development finance institutions to support investment into equipment, replanting of trees, fertiliser and continuation of Environmental and Social Action Plan.
Our sustainability approach focusses on the following six areas:
- Employee Well-being
- Zero Deforestation
- Community Inclusion
- Sustainable agriculture
- Environmental protection
- Business Conduct
We’ve already taken steps to regenerate our plantations, refurbish social infrastructure and improve working conditions. We’ve raised over $100 million of finance which has enabled us to secure the jobs of over 3, 800 of our employees as well as implement urgent improvements to infrastructure, processing facilities and to initiate plantation management improvements. In 2014, we worked with the six unions that represent our workers to revise a twenty year old collective agreement. The revised agreement details improvements to pay, benefits and general terms of employment and is part of our commitment to improve the livelihoods of our employees and their families for the long term. Through our commitment to only replant on areas previously planted with oil palm, we’ve also committed to zero deforestation of natural forest on the plantations, and are working on health, education, water and sanitation programmes.
RSPO certification is a critical management target and the measurement of RSPO Principles, Criterias and Indicators are key components within our ESG management system with progress tracked against our Environmental and Social Action Plan. The application of RSPO to a rehabilitation project such as that being undertaken by Feronia is a unique and hugely complex challenge and, whilst achieveing certification is taking longer than originally envisaged, we remain committed to achieve RSPO certification for all three of our plantations at the earliest practical opportunity. Whilst the work to achieve certification is ongoing, the Company, its shareholders and other stakeholders remain fully committed to delivering the social, environmental and sustainability objectives and standards required under RSPO.
Looking ahead, our sustainability strategy is built upon three core pillars- ‘our people’, ‘our plantations’, and ‘our communities’. We recognise that this is a journey and that our plans will evolve over time as a consequence of interactions with our employees, local communities and wider stakeholders. We are committed to making a significant positive impact across all of our activities.