Sunbird Bioenergy aims to deliver a best-in-class corporate social responsibility (CSR) program that will contribute to the rural development programs in our host communities. The program is funded as a percentage of locally produced profits, and invests in programs that deliver tangible development. This builds upon the projects initiated by Addax Bioenergy that are widely regarded as a benchmark for sustainable development in Africa. The programs include:
- Farmer Development Program
- Farmer Development Services
- Village Vegetable Garden
- Education and Apprenticeships
- Community Healthcare
- Rural Electrification
Farmer Development Program (FDP)
The FDP is modelled on a FAO agricultural programme for developing countries and is aligned with Government’s strategy for smallholder commercialisation.
The FDP’s primary objective is to ensure that all people within the project area will have sufficient land and agricultural skills to increase their food security and incomes on a sustainable basis with a view to achieving long-term economic development and poverty reduction.
FDP activities currently assist subsistence farmers with GIS plot allocation, ploughing, harrowing, seeding, seed harrowing, harvesting, threshing and transport. The program is provided free of charge for a three year period from the commencement of the project.
The FDP is aligned to the Government and donor agricultural strategy and is currently the largest private food production programme in Sierra Leone. To-date, it has developed:
- > 3,000 Ha of land for community farming (at no cost to the farmers)
- > 2400 farmers have been trained in better farming practices
- monitored three-fold increases in local rice yields
Farmer Development Services
A key regional objective is to reduce urban migration and help African youth view agriculture as a career. To support this, the company has put in place a service outlet known as the Farmer Development Services (“FDS”). This provides continuity to villages and individuals leaving the FDP and supports their development to become professional farmers. The FDS assists with contract ploughing, storage and threshing as a readily available service to farmers, for which full cost recovery is required. At the same time it provides a vehicle for investors and donors to support, and facilitate the transition towards a longer term strategy that will include diversification of cropping and development of commercial agriculture.
Village Vegetable Garden
The Village Vegetable Gardens (“VVG”) programme was started in 2014 to assist local communities in diversifying from rice production, help address gender imbalances and improve general nutrition. The VVG programme has provided seed, extension support, fertilisers and garden agrochemicals, mostly to women, to produce vegetables for sale and domestic consumption.
In Sierra Leone, Addax Bioenergy embarked on a reforestation programme as a mitigation effort to create and sustain ecological corridors within the estate, while at the same time providing support towards sustainable community cultivation of economical trees. Under the program the company is planting 30,000-50,000 trees annually in cooperation with local communities. The programme is partially funded by DEG.
Education and Apprenticeships
The program assists with the training and skills development of young agriculturists and engineers. This builds upon the Farmer Field and Life School (“FFLS”) established by Addax Bioenergy as a mitigation strategy to offset the potential effect of the agricultural development on the subsistence communities.The FFLS is a 30 week training programme that supports these activities, educating smallholder farmers in better agricultural practices and life skills. The FFLS are an evolution of the FAO’s Farmer Field School (“FFS”) which has a strong focus on improving farming techniques during a single season.
The team are investigating proposals to assist with capacity building in rural clinics and the provision of tele-medicine that links rural clinics via smartphones to volunteer doctors.
The team are assessing the feasibility of rural electrification program to will provide electricity to the off-grid communities within the estate.