Sierra Tropical (SL) Limited (STL) a wholly owned subsidiary of Dole Asia Holdings PTE Ltd, one of the many investments facilitated by SLIEPA in recent years on Thursday, 6th September paid a courtesy visit to the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SLIEPA, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma to update him on the operations of the company since its establishment in the country four (4) years ago.
Giving an overview of the company, the CEO/Senior Vice President and Country Manager of the company, Mr. Patrick Blake explained the structure of the operations of the company and their internal systems both at global and local levels. Mr. Centus Macauley, the Company Secretary and Legal Representative outlined the activities embarked on so far. In his briefing, he said that STL with financing from the parent company based in Japan – ITOCHU, has at the moment, with guidance from the Government of Sierra Leone, acquired 574 hectares of land from landowners/landowning families from the Lugbu chiefdom in the Bo district where the pineapple project will be located. This he said will increase in the next three (3) years to a total of 4,335 hectares of land where the pineapple and other tropical fruits plantation, cannery and processing facilities will be established. He said the company has employed at least 450 indigenes of the area. This he further stressed will increase substantially to 1,000 – 1,500 by mid-2019 when the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the Government of Sierra Leone and the company would have been signed. As such, he said the company would require the support of the CEO to speed the process, as it has significant effect on the company’s operation in the short-run.
The Chief Operation Officer (COO) Alex Rivera and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Kantaru Iwabuchi also highlighted the constraints the company is facing in terms of the processing and granting of duty-free concessions by the Government of Sierra Leone. They further explained that the Japanese Government will be strongly supporting the project and other infrastructural developments as soon as the MoA is signed by the Government of Sierra Leone and ratified by the Sierra Leone Parliament which will include but not limited to working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to organize Technical/Vocational Training for Sierra Leoneans to acquire the required skills for their operations.
The CEO on his part was impressed with the presentation by the company and commended the SLIEPA team for their facilitation services to the project. He expressed profound appreciation to the company for the strides made so far in ensuring that the country, in the short run, benefits from a juice processing facility which will eventually create jobs for Sierra Leoneans, compliment Government’s effort in providing social services in their area of operations, improve rural livelihoods, serve the domestic market and export to earn foreign exchange for the country. He committed the Agency’s support to the full implementation of the project and looking forward for a continued good working relationship with STL. He also promised to visit the company’s operational site soonest to be au fait with their operations and interact with the communities to better understand and provide guidance.