Serendipalm produces organic HAND IN HAND palm oil in the West African country of Ghana, the region where the oil palm originates from. The heat resistant palm oil is recovered from the unimposing oil palm fruits. The cultivation of oil palms and the processing of the palm oil itself are located in the southern part of Ghana, around and in the village of Asuom. In 2007, US-manufacturer Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps initiated the palm oil project; and since 2009 the palm oil is fair trade certified.
HAND IN HAND products
Cultivation and on-site processing
Organic and sustainable- from the very beginning
More than 630 contact farmers are cultivating palm fruits for Serendipalm in an area of around 750 hectares. Since the very beginning of the project, no forest has been cleared for new oil palm plantations. Serendipalm is operated in accordance with organic principles - the oil palms are fertilized with harvest, production leftovers and compost in order to boost soil fertility. Several agricultural engineers assist the peasants and provide hands-on training.
Plain fruit with high content
Basically, the oil palm fruit is a snaggy fruit bundle, that itself carries many individual, about nut-sized, red-to-orange colored fruit. As much as 50 % of its pulp, as of the kernel alike, is composed of oil. Main harvest is from February to June. Serendipalm directly purchases the peasants’ crop; there is neither an intermediary nor are there long-distance transport routes. Subsequently, the harvested fruit bundles are processed to crude palm oil at Serendipalm’s own oil mill.
Serendipalm – a women’s project
Picking single, small-sized fruit off the bundle is a mere women’s job – just as most other tasks at Serendipalm are carried out by local women. Altogether Serendipalm employs about 150 female workers: their jobs range from picking oil palm bundles to managing the oil mill – a task that is done by Lucy Aboagye and her two sisters. Women of all ages work at Serendipalm; young women who only work during the harvest season, women who work as day laborers and older women who want to earn some extra income.
The picking of the fruit bundles and most other processing steps are done by hand. After the fruits have been harvested, they are steamed in water in order to prevent further product deterioration. Afterwards the fruits are pressed and the shiny red crude oil is clarified. Finally, the oil is filled into tanks for storage. Product quality is monitored throughout the entire processing: several employees permanently review and revise cultivation, harvest and the processing steps.
Not only the peasants and the female workers benefit from the higher prices associated with the fair trade quality, but also the entire community: the fair trade bonus was used to finance the drilling of wells, the installation of drinking water cisterns, the purchase of medical equipment and the purchase of school materials for the children.