PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair paid a visit yesterday to the office of J-Palm Liberia, a local enterprise that processes and markets products made from oil palm.
Blair was accompanied by Chinese businessman and philanthropist Niu Gensheng. Their visit was intended to provide them with a first-hand experience of the company’s activities.
The Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative is among international organizations that have supported J-Palm through the 40 Chances Fellowship program over the last two years. The US$150,000 award was also funded by the World Food Prize Foundation and the Howard Buffet Foundation.
During their visit, Blair and Niu were guided on a tour of the company’s office and viewed some of its products.
The visitors also saw photos of the company’s activities in rural Liberia and its use of the oil palm to provide better livelihood opportunities for smallholder oil palm producers in the country.
Mahmud Johnson, the chief executive officer of J-Palm, said he and his team was excited over the visit of Blair and Niu.
Johnson said he was also grateful for all the support his company continues to receive.
He added that the company is now working with student researchers at the University of Colorado to use oil palm kernel shells to create longer lasting charcoal.
“Now that we have reached the peak of primary production, we are prepared to engage into other products to provide more employment opportunities,” he said.
J-Palm currently produces crude palm oil, crude palm kernel oil, palm kernel cake for animal feed, palm kernel shells, and the popular Kernel Fresh brand of palm kernel oil.
Johnson said the oil palm tree and its products are rich in substances that can be used in different ways to improve the economic lives of Liberians. He called on citizens to turn to his business in order to change their livelihoods. “We are providing jobs for Liberians especially smallholder oil palm farmers,” he added.
Tom Kollie contributed to the reporting. Featured photo by Tom Kollie