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West African Palm Oil Smallholder Farmers Tap into U.S. Market

The Challenge:

The global palm industry employs 6 million people and is estimated to be worth $60 billion. However, many smallholder farmers struggle to penetrate the global market and build partnerships with large retailers. Barriers to entry include the cost of expertise required for organic certification, a lack of capital investments for process upgrades, and the historic challenge of justifying a more expensive oil product that cannot be traced directly to farmers.

Our Solution &Impact:

USAID’s West Africa Trade & Investment Hub has awarded a $1.1 million co-investment grant to 8 Degrees North, a Ghanaian palm oil processing company. This grant will help smallholder farmers in West Africa access the growing market for organic palm oil in the United States. Exports from this venture to the United States are expected to create over 6,000 new jobs in Ghana and Liberia and to generate over $1.7 million in sales, with new sales for smallholders valued at over $900,000.

8 Degrees North will use the grant to back an alliance with multiple partners seeking to address the challenges of process upgrades and organic certification in West Africa’s palm oil industry. Pacha Soap Co., a U.S.-based natural soaps company committed to ethical sourcing, is a critical investor and member of this alliance. Pacha Soap will work with 8 Degrees North and J-Palm, a Liberian palm kernel oil company in the alliance, to secure organic accreditation for their two mills. The company will also source ingredients for its products directly from 8 Degrees North and J-Palm and leverage its relationship with major retailers in the United States, like Whole Foods Market, to advertise and market 8 Degrees North and J-Palm’s certified palm oil and palm kernel oil, capitalizing on the untapped potential for a diversified supply chain of palm oil sourced from organic smallholder plantations in West Africa.

“This co-investment partnership with the Trade Hub will enable us to expand operations, create more jobs, improve standards of living for our farmers and their communities, and also to meet our corporate social responsibilities.” - OSMAN BANGURA, Director of Operations for 8 Degrees North


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