Manufacturing Operations | J-Palm Liberia

No-Waste Manufacturing, Vertical Integration and Smallholder Empowerment

Manual palm oil processing. Photo credit: BBC

Manual palm oil processing. Photo credit: BBC

J-Palm employs a vertically integrated, no-waste manufacturing system that allows us to keep our costs structure low and our prices competitive, while also empowering smallholder farmers. Our manufacturing is centered on the oil palm plant, indigenous to West Africa, which has multiple uses and allows us to create a range of consumer products and clean energy solutions for our customers. Currently our products include Crude Palm Oil (CPO), Palm Kernel Oil (PKO), Palm Kernel Cake (PKC), and Palm Kernel Shells (PKS). We are currently finalizing market testing for our brand of oil palm-based laundry soaps, which we intend to launch in January 2015. Our oil production processes feed into our soap production in a vertically-integrated manner allowing us to produce high quality soaps at low cost and market them at competitive price points.

We currently lease a 500-acre oil palm farm, which feeds into our CPO production. Our basic model is to work with medium-scale palm plantation owners to refurbish old and abandoned farms through a farm-leasing program. As part of this agreement we underbrush the farms and provide processing equipment and technical expertise to increase productivity on the farms, in return for a share of the oils produced on the farms.

We are constantly seeking out opportunities to include more farms in our portfolio. If you own an oil palm farm and are interested in a partnership with J-Palm, send us a note via our Contact page, and we will  follow up with you.

Freedom-MillPalm Oil Production: In Liberia, smallholder farmers produce over 50% of palm oil consumed. However, about 35-40% of oil palm fruit goes un-harvested due to lack of time, labor, liquidity and appropriate harvesting and value-adding technologies. As a result, a majority of smallholder producers manually extract the oils. When processed by hand, another 50% is lost during oil extraction. Smallholders risk losing out in development if unable to upgrade trees and processing technologies.

To improve output and productivity on smallholder oil palm farms, J-Palm provides simple oil screw press machines to smallholder farmers in return for a fraction of the oils produced. We also provide smallholders the option to sell their oils to us at prevailing market prices, thus eliminating the farm-to-market transportation costs they face. Given that almost half of Liberia’s palm fruit go to waste every year due to a dearth of appropriate processing technologies, our model provides a win-win solution for J-Palm and the smallholder farmers with whom we work.

Our 5-year goal is to make these screw press machines available to smallholder oil palm producers throughout Liberia.

Palm Kernel Oil: Crude palm oil is produced from the outer layer of the palm fruit. After producing palm oil, most smallholder producers regard the palm seeds (kernels) as waste. Palm kernels produce another form of oil – palm kernel oil – that is used in cosmetics and food products. However, most smallholders cannot afford the substantial capital investments to crack and separate the kernels from the hard shells, and extract the oils. J-Palm purchases the kernels from smallholder producers, and processes them into palm kernel oil. By creating a productive use for the hitherto wasted kernels, we are effectively creating a new market, which results in an additional 25-35% increase in incomes for smallholder producers.

Palm Kernel Cake: The palm kernel cake is the residual from palm kernel oil production process. It is used primarily as medium-grade protein feed for cattle and pigs, usually mixed with other types of feed to create a richer feed that enhances animal growth. We currently supply PKC to pig farmers and animal feed companies in Liberia.

Palm Kernel Shells: The last residue from this manufacturing process is the palm kernel shell. As part of our commitment to implementing a no-waste manufacturing process, our research division is currently investigating a number of exciting uses for palm kernel shells and other palm-production residual. Please see our J-Lab page for more information!

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Soap Production: The palm oil and palm kernel oil we produce primarily feed into J-Palm’s soap production operation, with the rest sold on the local market. Through this vertically integrated manufacturing process, J-Palm benefits from economies of scale and scope, which enables us to profitably manufacture high-quality and affordable laundry soaps for the Liberian market. The soap project is in the final stages of market testing and validation. The brand is scheduled for launch in January 2015.