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.
Feronia PHC signs 'Protocoles d'accord' with local communities - Lokutu
At the invitation of the Governor of the Tshopo province, community representatives from the territories of Basoko, Yahuma and Isangi and management from PHC Lokutu recently met in Kisangani.
The aim of the series of meetings was to advance dialogue between the Company and local communities and attempt to establish “protocoles d’accord” to detail the requests and requirements of local communities and formalise how the Company and Communities will work together in this regard.
The discussions lasted several days and culminated in the creation and signing of the protocols under the supervision of the Governor and Vice-Governor of the province who have also committed to oversee their implementation.
Agreement between Feronia PHC and local communities on social projects
Feronia PHC welcomed the Provincial Government of Tshopo’s recent initiative to host and mediate a series of meetings in Kisangani.
These meetings aimed to advance dialogue between the Company and local communities from the territories of Isangi, Basoko and Yahuma at Feronia PHC's Lokutu plantation, and establish a “protocol d’accord” to detail the requests and requirements of local communities and formalise how the Company and Communities will work together in this regard.
The meetings took place at the Town Hall in Kisangani over four days (Wednesday 15th – Saturday 18th November) with members of the Provincial Government acting as mediators. An initial meeting between the Company and representatives of the three territories was held on the Wednesday, and there followed meetings between the Company and representatives of each of the three territories.
Over the four days of meetings, the Company and representatives of the communities found common ground and a “protocol d’ accord” was signed with community leaders from each area.
Feronia PHC feels that the Provincial Government’s initiative to host and mediate the meetings was positive; a sentiment shared by the leaders of the Communities involved.
It looks forward to working with the communities in implementing what has been agreed.
The video is a news report by RTNC of the meeting between Feronia PHC and the Yahuma territory community leaders.
Defensive Driving Training - Yaligimba
Organised jointly with the Institut National de Promotion Professionnel, 65 participants have recently completed a two week defensive driving course at Yaligimba. The course covered areas such as good driving practices, anticipation of risks and general road safety. It forms part of the Company’s health and safety programme which aims to achieve a goal of zero traffic related accidents on its plantations.
Construction of a new medical waste incinerator at PHC's Lokutu Hospital
To safely dispose of medical waste, the Company has built a new incinerator at its Lokutu Hospital. Medical waste management is an important issue at the Lokutu hospital, which admits around 500 patients each month.
Ambassadors visit water borehole drilling site
On their recent visit to the Company's operations, the Belgium and UK ambassadors to the DRC saw, at first hand, many of the postive impacts Feronia is having in the areas in which it operates. One such positive impact is the provision of safe, clean drinking water for those living in and around its operations and the Ambassadors met the Company's borehole drilling team as they drilled another new water borehole.
Since 2015, the Company has drilled 69 boreholes in and around its operations at Boteka, Lokutu and Yaligimba and more boreholes are planned planned for 2018.
Inauguration of new Yaligimba boiler and turbine
After several months of construction, a new fiber boiler and steam turbine were inaugerated at Yaligimba in a ceremony attended by the Governor of Mongala, and Belgium's and the United Kingdom's Ambassadors to the DRC.
The new boiler uses the fibre by-product of CPO production as fuel to produce steam for the production process. This steam is then recycled to power a new 1.5 megawatt steam turbine to produce electricity.
This is a great step forward for the Company as using the free, organic fuel will help reduce its cost of production and also means that the Yaligimba mill is now operating entirely on green energy produced by the Company.
Household Waste Collection - Yaligimba
As part of its commitment to Environmental best practices, Feronia PHC has started collecting household waste from communities at its Yaligimba plantation.
The waste, which was often previously burnt by households, is now taken to a new landfilsite where it is correctly treated and disposed of.
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.