Serendipalm is run by a team of young Ghanaian professionals, under the guidance of Managing Director Safianu Moro, and with the support of the Dr. Bronner’s Special Operations Team.
Serendipalm’s oil mill was modeled on the small local palm oil mills but it offers more efficient and safer technology, better compensation and social benefits, as well as development opportunities for employees.
With more than 250 employees (mostly unschooled women), the mill is the most important employer in Asuom.
Despite mostly dispensing with production automation and using a lot of manual labor instead, we emphasize efficiency, good process management and oil quality. After all, fair projects also need to satisfy their customers.
Serendipalm sources palm fruit from over 600 organic small farmers. Organized into 4 local associations, they deal directly with Serendipalm for trade and logistics. The farmers receive a ten-percent bonus on top of the going market price. Their fruits are weighed—not merely gauged, as is customary—and they are paid immediately.
Serendipalm’s agricultural engineers check that farmers are complying with the Fair Trade rules and are paying their field hands as agreed.
Serendipalm provides the farmers with funding to start the gradual planting of high-yield oil palm seedlings. Around 100,000 seedlings have already been planted since 2012. To increase species diversity, the farmers are required to plant them in conjunction with other trees.
The oil palm fields are surrounded by small-scale citrus and cacao fields—there are no large monocultures. Many of our oil palm farmers also cultivate cacao, and Serendipalm has already enabled several hundred of them to switch to the organic production of higher-priced cacao.
Production employees are well paid—typically earning 20% more than the local wage. And, something else that is unusual at other local small oil mills: they are given paid vacation, sick leave, and maternal leave, as well as pension and health insurance.
Other advantages: a hot, free meal every day; bonus payments at Christmas and Easter; employees treat each other with respect; they are actively involved in planning and improving operations; training programs for new employees; the constructive “working atmosphere” that is much admired by visitors.
All by-products from Fair Trade and organic palm oil manufacturing such as empty fruit pericarps, fibers or seeds are put to valuable use.Palm seeds go to an organic and Fair Trade project in Togo that we know well.Fruit pericarps and production waste water are used as mulch and fertilizer, thus returning mineral nutrients and biomass to the soil.The fibers are used either as tinder, or also as mulch.
Serendipalm operates a sustainable, large-scale farm cultivating fruit and vegetables for the company’s own kitchen.
All palm oil customers pay a Fair Trade premium as part of the purchase price. Our current premium revenue amounts to around € 82,000 per year. A Fair Trade committee made up of farmers, Serendipalm employees and management decides on how this money is used. Serendipalm coordinates and oversees the of the projects which serve to adress local needs, and to help the communities and their charitable initiatives devise and realize projects together.
Questions and Suggestions?