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Phatisa and Finnfund announce exit from integrated organic sustainable palm oil producer, Planting Naturals, following acquisition by Dutch Dekker Group affiliate

  • Phatisa and Finnfund successfully exit their stake in Planting Naturals, a transformative brownfield investment, started in 2011, to rebuild a war-damaged palm oil mill in Sierra Leone.

  • Planting Naturals has since grown into a leading global producer of organic and RSPO-certified palm oil, and is now being acquired by PaLenDu, an affiliate of the Dutch Dekker Group.

  • Under the stewardship of Phatisa and Finnfund and its operating partners, Planting Naturals has achieved remarkable growth and positive impact, including training and supporting the certification of over 8,000 smallholder farmers in West Africa and contributing to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with the new ownership poised to further these achievements.

 

Prominent development and impact investors, Phatisa and Finnfund (Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation), are pleased to announce the sale of their majority stake in Planting Naturals, a leading producer of organic and RSPO-certified palm oil, to PaLenDu, an affiliate of the Dutch Dekker Group.

 

The transaction terms are undisclosed.

 

Transformative Investment in Sustainable Agriculture

 

Phatisa, through its Fund 1 – the African Agriculture Fund, and Finnfund first invested in Planting Naturals’ predecessor entity (known as Goldtree) in 2011, in a brownfield investment aimed at rebuilding a palm oil mill in Daru, Sierra Leone, which had been destroyed during the civil war. Since, the Company has grown to own 5,500 ha of its own plantations in regions where oil palm has been traditionally planted, and implemented best practices in farming and operations. These have transformed Planting Naturals into a major player in the global organic palm oil market, producing over 7,000 tonnes of sustainable crude palm oil annually for top-tier food and animal feed manufacturers in Europe and Asia.

 

Committed to responsible land use, the High Conservation Value areas surrounding Planting Naturals’ plantations have been protected since the time of investment, providing critical habitat protection for a large number of flora and fauna species. 

 

Creating a Positive Impact

 

Planting Naturals operates its own plantations and partners with over 8,000 smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone, providing them with training and certification in RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and organic farming practices. With the support of Planting Naturals, one of the smallholder groups became the first independent smallholder group in Africa to receive RSPO certification. This initiative has fostered significant economic and social benefits for local communities – aligning with SDG 8 and 12, being:

 

  • SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth – to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.

  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production – to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

 

Remarkable Growth and Achievements

 

Since the initial 2011 investment, Phatisa and Finnfund were instrumental in growing and merging the Sierra Leone business with Planting Naturals, leveraging a strong management team and established route-to-market.

 

Jan Hein de Vroe, CEO of Planting Naturals, states:

“Our focus on organic and sustainable practices has not only differentiated Planting Naturals from conventional producers but has also contributed to several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those aimed at improving livelihoods and promoting sustainable agriculture. Planting Naturals now employs over 2,000 people, positively impacts over 8,000 smallholder farmers in West Africa, and continues to drive positive change particularly in Sierra Leone.”

 

Sustaining the Vision

 

Crude Palm and Palm Kernel Oils, when produced responsibly, offer significant environmental and community benefits. This aligns perfectly with Phatisa’s and Finnfund’s shared mission to support sustainable and ethical agricultural practices globally.

 

Martin Kromat, Senior Partner at Phatisa, stated:

“Our journey with Planting Naturals has been one of profound impact and growth. Together with Finnfund and the dedicated management team, we have established a sustainable and successful business model in Sierra Leone. We are proud to leave behind a legacy of economic opportunities and environmental and social stewardship in the international organic palm oil market.”

 

Looking Forward

 

The acquisition by PaLenDu, an affiliate of the Dutch Dekker Group, marks a new chapter for Planting Naturals – and provides a platform for continued growth, whilst enhancing Planting Naturals’ mission of sustainable development.

 

Ilkka Norjamäki, Associate Director, Head of the Agri and Forestry portfolio at Finnfund, added:

“We are pleased to have been able to support the development and positive impact generated by Planting Naturals, in close collaboration with farmers and other partners. As an impact investor and development financier, it was critical for us that the Company remains committed to responsible business practices under new ownership and will continue supporting local communities by providing work and livelihoods.”

 

Jan Hein de Vroe, CEO of Planting Naturals, concluded:

“We appreciate the support of Phatisa and Finnfund.  Together, we have achieved remarkable milestones.  We look forward to continued success with our new partners at PaLenDu.”

 

The transaction has received all necessary regulatory approvals.

 


  • RSPO-certified palm oil - see Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (https://rspo.org/)

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