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. Life is hard in Sierra Leone, a country currently ranked the third poorest on earth. 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 in 2014. Natural Habitats has since expanded its farmer and owned plantation network to create the largest organic palm oil operation in Africa. With two growing and processing areas, Natural Habitats works with upwards of 1,800 small 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. The Natural Habitats operations team, led by Kevin Godlington, and the Sustainability team, led by Jessenia Angulo, have many years grass-roots experience operating in highly complex environments, building the appropriate teams locally and creating the right environment for success. It is this core set of internal skills that man it possible for Natural Habitats to work in all corners of the globe, however challenging and difficult.
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.
Alie Mohamed BaoCommunity Relations Manager
Alie’s key duties are to represent the company to the Chiefdom. He provides a feedback mechanism between the company, the Chiefdom, the District and the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). He ensures that the company complies with the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) when developing our sustainable plantation.
“Natural Habitats are the only growers of organic products in Sierra Leone. My roles at NH allows me interface with community people, to guide them and solve their problems. This inspires me most”.
Mohamed MansarayDigital Mapping and New Development Manager
Mohamed’s key duties include management of our local digital map data and processing it into workable maps, plantation planning and development, fire prevention management
“What l admire/like about Natural Habitats: Effort, determination and trust of staff, team work and collaboration, respect and care for all.”
Mustapha John BullEstate Manager
Mustapha’s key duties include making work plans for nursery and plantation operations, supervising all operations in both nursery and the plantation, inspecting the nursery and plantation to make decisions on the most important operations to be implemented, recruiting workers for production and operations, daily monitoring and data collection of all operations, supervising staff, regular reporting on operations management.
“The most interesting things that makes me to work with Natural Habitats are the care and concerns NHSL has over their employees, and the sustainable organic plantation development systems.”
Abdul MansourAdmin and Finance Officer
Abdul’s key duties consist of managing personnel and operating expenses. He provides leadership to the team to meet and exceed our organizational goals and objectives. He manages daily processing of all executed transactions, financial, stock movements or otherwise. He coordinates handling of finances for the operation.
“What I find interesting/inspiring about working for Natural Habitats Zimmi is the business is built on integrity, they embrace diversity, are committed to transparency, and they empower people. The NHG Team shares their passion for organic agriculture, strives for excellence, encourage collaboration and enjoy what they do and have fun in the process.”
Mohamed KamaraGeneral Manager, Nedoil
Mohamad’s key duties include overseeing all aspects of the day-to-day operations of the mill. From fruit buying, to loading of our organic CPO for export. This includes handing out directives to our department heads and then following up to ensure those directives are carried out in accordance with the KPI’s. He provides daily technical support, coaching and mentoring to
all mill and field staff in the implementation of the project activities (from buying to mill processing).
What you find interesting/inspiring about working for Natural Habitats and the Nedoil project:
“The high levels interactions and cordiality amongst staff from top management to junior staff is very unique and interesting. The organic certification process is also very interesting”.
Santigie L. SesayAssistant Mill Supervisor
Santigie assists with the management of all aspect of running the mill. He supervises the fruit reception, which includes unloading trucks and loading the fruit into the mill process, monitoring the daily production, and ensuring the best practices and safety are adhered to. He also directs tasks to the mill crews and workers.
“What I find interesting is the positive relationship between management and staffs which includes staff motivation”
In Sierra Leone, Natural Habitats works with over 1,800 small farmers, each certified organic and dedicated to only using organic practices to cultivate palm fruit. The dedicated Natural Habitats sustainability team has worked tirelessly to convert each farmer to organic agriculture, and continues to bring on more and more small palm farmers that see the benefit of organic and want to join the Palm Done Right cause.
In addition to almost 2,000 small farmers in Sierra Leone, Natural Habitats also operates owned, organic plantations, employing hundreds of workers and creating a scalable positive impact. Through continued investment in both organic palm production and community social programs, Natural Habitats will continue to expand positive economic impact among native peoples, create environmental benefits through the conversion of existing conventional land to organic, and will build a Palm Done Right model that can positively influence the palm oil industry at large.
Natural Habitats Group 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:
Local Partnerships: Natural Habitats Group currently operates in two main areas across the country of Sierra Leone, Yele and Zimmi, and has formed strong relationships with the government, partnerships with 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.
Third Party Certifications: To ensure Natural Habitats Group 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, Natural Habitats is working closely with the RSPO to ensure the highest level of certification of farmers and owned plantations.
Social Projects: Natural Habitats supports a number of social projects, going above and beyond our third party certifications, demonstrating that a Palm Done Right approach is good for the environment, as well as the local communities where palm oil is grown. Some of the social projects Natural Habitats implements on the ground in Sierra Leone include employment programs to create jobs for local peoples, 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.
Quality Assurance: Natural Habitats Group 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.