Feronia strongly believes that sustainable development underpins better business performance and is a core part of our bottom line. We also believe that every business has a responsibility to operate in a sustainable way. There are three elements of our company which are material to achieving our sustainable development goals - taking care of our workforce, promoting environmental stewardship at our plantations and continuing to improve the livelihoods and well-being of both our employees and our neighbouring communities.
As highlighted on our progress page, we’ve already taken steps to regenerate our plantations, refurbish social infrastructure and improve working conditions. Progress has been tracked against our Environmental and Social Action Plan – developed in order to bring ourselves up to global environmental and social standards. We’re also ambitious about achieving RSPO certification for all three of our plantations, starting with Yaligimba which we anticipate achieving in 2017.
Our sustainability strategy focusses on three core pillars ‘our people’,‘our plantations’, and ‘our communities’.
We place great importance on the quality, health and well-being of our workforce. We want our people to feel engaged with their work and motivated to achieve their potential. We are working hard to create the right environment to do this.
We recognise our responsibility to protect natural resources and optimize the productive potential of our plantations. We do this through ensuring adequate protection of natural forest, effective resources management and promotion of sustainable agricultural practices. We recognise that safeguarding our plantations and the surrounding environment is fundamental pillar to the success our business.
We aim to be a catalyst for and participant in broad based community development. We take our responsibility to contribute to the growth and development of the DRC by being a primary service provider on our plantations and to our surrounding communities very seriously. We therefore see this pillar as essential to addressing long term developmental challenges in rural DRC including food security, diversification of the economy, and education, healthcare and livelihood restoration.
Key priorities and how we plan to address them
Working Conditions and Labour Rights
Maintain our positive relationship with our workers unions including adherence to all terms and benefits agreed during union consultations.
- Increasing wages of all employees by at least 3% annually for each full year of continuous service in the company.
- Continuing to pay a traditional 13th and 14th month salary in a lump sum cash bonus to all employees until 1 January 2017 to ensure that all employees continue to receive total cash benefits of at least the minimum wage.
- Raising base wage levels exclusive of cash bonuses for all employees to at least 100% of the minimum wage levels prescribed by DRC agricultural law by January 2017 whilst maintaining a high standard of additional employee benefits.
- Continue the rehabilitation and construction of all c3,800 workers housing and sanitation as per our Housing Action Plan
- Continue implementing our water borehole programme through our partnership with Water for Africa which will reinstate 52 boreholes for use by workers and wider community
- Increase capacity of healthcare facilities through provision of equipment and training and continued partnership with ProjectCURE
- Continue to improve our provision of high quality medical care for employees and their dependents as well as provide access to affordable medical care for local communities
- Continue to pay schools fees for workers at Management grade for all children. Grant financial assistance for schooling upon request to workers whose children are registered in an officially recognised school
- Review the condition of schools on the plantations and make improvements to the current infrastructure
Occupational Health and Safety
- Continue to make improvements in occupational health and safety performance through embedding good OHS behaviours into everyday practice.
- Continue to ensure all staff are trained on health and safety to the level appropriate to meet the needs of their role as per our health monitoring programme
- Pursue National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) certification for key individuals
- Continue our work on promoting good business conduct to ensure that all of our policies are enforced
- Continue our work on business integrity to ensure employees follow our ‘zero tolerance’ approach to acts of bribery and corruption
- Continue our three-year training plan to communicate this approach across the group
Rehabilitation of plantations to achieve RSPO certification
- Continue implementation of RSPO roadmap working towards RSPO certification for all palm oil plantations
- Continue our commitment to zero deforestation and plantation rehabilitation in line with RSPO requirements, IFC Performance Standards and our Environmental and Social Policy Continue training our workers in sustainable agricultural methods
Promote more sustainable production practices
- Continue training our workers in sustainable agricultural methods
- Build capacity and competence of our sustainability team through provision of adequate training and resources
- Promote better plantation management practices that reduce soil erosion and better management of soils, more efficient agricultural input use (particularly fertilisers), and integrated pest management, as well as use of water
Environmental conservation and biodiversity
- Consider sustainable solutions for POME such as the production of fertilizer and methane capture for biogas that would reduce reliance on imported fertilizer and diesel and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Continue implementation of our waste management plan including the provision of adequate storage and treatment of hazardous wastes
- Continue our environmental monitoring programme covering air emissions, solid waste, effluent, water consumption, energy use, indoor air quality and occupational noise
- Roll out our integrated Environment and Social Management System (ESMS)
- Implement internal auditing of our ESMS management system to ISO 14001/19011 standards to drive continual improvement and ensure compliance with policies
- Create an environment which will allow internal and external stakeholders to engage openly in discussion about development priorities and needs, as well as the role and impact of the Company
- Support our community liaison officers to manage stakeholder concerns and grievances proactively, with a view to achieving resolution in a timely manner.
- Continue building the capacity of our healthcare, water and school facilities to enable members our wider community affordable access to these services
- Develop and implement community development initiatives. Using our baseline ESA findings as a guide we plan to focus on the following key areas:
Health: provision of potable water, vaccinations against common diseases, improvement of nutrition, better access to hospitals, clinics and dispensaries, family planning and sexual health programmes
Education: promote access to, and affordability of good quality primary and secondary education targeting children aged 16 and under, improve personal development of adults through adult literacy programmes
Promote food security: for the local communities through education programs that will increase the ability of local stakeholders to grow crops and livestock, to look at ways in which we can support more productive and efficient agricultural practices
We recognise the challenge ahead and understand that in order to promote sustainable development; we will need to work with a wide range of partners – from government, civil society, international development agencies and local communities. We need to work hand in hand with our local community, our people and our peers.
We have already established successful partnerships with local and international organisations that are helping us carry out vital activities that promote the rehabilitation of these plantations and support the health education and welfare of surrounding communities. We are open to developing new collaborations and are seeking partners to help support our health, education and livelihood goals. If you would like to help us please read our NGO Engagement Policy and if your ideas are aligned with our development ambitions and partnership engagement model, please get in touch.