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Home | Research/Analysis | Oil Palm Needs Assessment Consultancy - job in Liberia

Oil Palm Needs Assessment Consultancy -- Grow Liberia   Job Details

The GROW Liberia Programme is a private sector development initiative operating in Liberia to promote pro-poor economic growth and stability through partnerships with the private sector. GROW is a 5 year SIDA funded programme, based on the ‘Making Markets Work for the Poor’ (M4P) approach. The programme seeks to contribute to sustainable peace and poverty reduction through inclusive and integrated economic development in Liberia. Its objective is substantially increased incomes and employment opportunities for a large number of poor women, men and youth, created through market system change in agriculture


As documented in GROWs Market System Analysis (MSA), the oil palm sector is of vital importance to Liberia. The Liberian oil palm sector is dominated by multinational concessions that have been granted significant concessions by the Government of Liberia (GoL). In the Concession Agreements, the Liberian government has committed itself to raising development finance for Outgrower Scheme establishment. Similar to other countries that previously established large-scale outgrower programs, e.g. Malaysia and Indonesia; major initial financing is expected to be arranged through international development finance institutions rather than from the Government’s over-stretched resources. In particular, financing arrangements require the establishment of (a) an agreed outgrower structural model, (b) appropriate land tenure policies that promote stability and security of production, (c) an approach to social inclusion that provides non-conflict access to benefits, and (d) good local and national governance. Little progress has been made in promoting investment and raising funding for Community Oil Palm/ Outgrower Schemes since the four large international concessions began operations in 2010. This is a systemic constraint to smallholder farmers benefiting from Liberia’s potentially rich oil palm sector. Their limited commercial involvement in the sector is a source of insecurity, which, as stated in the GROW Oil Palm Sector MSA, has a mutually reinforcing relationship with poverty.

One of the ways to solve the impasse over the development finance constraint is to address requirements (a) through (d) above by developing a Community Oil Palm/ Outgrower Scheme Operational Model and Financial Plan, and then to facilitate their implementation in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, including smallholder farmers, communities, Concession-holders, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) focused on environmental and social objectives, and the Government. This will enable the Government to approach DFIs to apply for loans to finance the establishment of Outgrower Scheme pilot programmes.


Therefore, the GROW Programme, in support of the National Bureau of Concessions (NBC) and Concession-holders, seeks a local research firm/consultant(s) to conduct a community needs assessment (CNA) for smallholder Oil Palm communities/farmers.

Objective of the Assignment

The key objective of this assignment is to help GROW and the NBC better understand the challenges faced by smallholders and communities located around Oil Palm concession areas and what they feel they need to improve and take control of their lives. The CNA will document the expectation of benefits produced from their participation in an Oil Palm Outgrower Scheme linked to one of the major concessions. This information will inform the design of a Community Oil Palm Outgrower Scheme Operational Model, which, once implemented, has the potential to enhance smallholder farmers’ stability and increase their employment and income. The goals of the assignment are to:


i.       Identify and outline the challenges of oil palm smallholder communities located around Oil Palm concessions:

a.   Land ownership and use, availability and tenure;

b.   Extension advice;

c.   Input supply;

d.   Transportation;

e.   Conditioning;

f.    Training;

g.   Financing.


ii.      Risks and returns

a.  Identify and outline community risk factors, including

                     i.   Income levels in smallholder oil palm communities;

                    ii.   Sources of income;

                    iii.   Employment status and opportunities (disaggregated by gender and age;

                    iv.   Level of social contribution to the communities by the concessions;

                    v.   Environmental impact of Oil Palm concession operations;

                    vi.   Impact of concession operations on smallholders’ livelihood; and,

                   vii.   Other risk (including instability, violent protest, etc) around Oil Palm concession areas and recommendations to mitigate them.

b.  Identify and outline community concerns and production challenges, including;

                     i.   What kind and level of commercial support do communities feel is required from concessions;

                    ii.   What kind and level of non-commercial benefits do communities wish to receive  from concessions;

                    iii.    Types of smallholder production arrangements and organizational structures (independent smallholders, supported smallholders or managed smallholders); and,

                    iv.   Other concerns.


Scope of the Assignment

The Community Needs Assessment will be conducted in Grand Cape Mount and Sinoe Counties. In consultation with GROW and the Outgrower Scheme Implementation Technical Committee, the consultant will:

·         design the Community Needs Assessment study by drafting and finalizing a sound research protocol (including the sampling frame and sampling strategy);

·         draft appropriate research instruments (questionnaires, interviews, observation, electronic data collection, etc) and revise them based on feedback from GROW  and other stakeholders;

·         pre-test the instruments, sharing and documenting findings;

·         implement field data collection activities in communities in Grand Cape Mount and Sinoe Counties respectively, within agreed upon timeframes;

·         analyse data in line with an agreed-upon data analysis plan, preparing tables and charts where appropriate;

·         summarize and present key findings to GROW and the Oil Palm Outgrower Scheme Implementation Technical committee;

·         draft and produce a Final Report incorporating feedback from GROW and the Oil Palm Outgrower Scheme Implementation Technical committee.


Approach and Methodology

The study’s methodology will be developed by the consultant at the commencement of the assignment and presented to GROW and the NBC in a detailed Inception Report. GROW has high expectations concerning the quantity and quality of data to be collected. Where appropriate, the study must utilize both qualitative (eg. Focus Group Discussions-FGDs, Key Informant Interviews-KIIs, rapid rural appraisals, other participatory approaches) and quantitative (eg. surveys, etc.) research methodologies.


The CNA should develop detailed data on targeted smallholder oil palm producers and their needs, investment risk factors, acceptable returns to smallholders and communities, the income levels and economic situations of smallholder communities and their challenges. All CNA qualitative and quantitative data must be disaggregated where appropriate by location, age (youth and adult) and gender.


The CNA data collection will involve:

i.                     Secondary documentation: GROW and NBC will share key documents and literature with the consultant, but he/she should also make use any other relevant national or international documents (such as studies, Oil Palm Concession Agreements, the GROW Oil Palm Market Assessment (MSA) report, etc).


ii.                   Qualitative data: the qualitative portion of the survey is significant and will verify the perceptions and experiences of smallholder community members (men and women, youth and adult). The consultant should use qualitative approaches, such as focus group discussions and key informant interviews, as well as participatory exercises and techniques. The consultant will be required to organize separate focus groups for women and men, youth and adults, and traditional leaders. The following minimum number of focus group discussions should be undertaken in each community:

a.   One FGD with at least 10 adult females (homogeneous members)

b.   One FGD with at least 10 adult males (homogenous members)

c.   One FGD with at least 10 female youth (homogenous members)

d.   One FGD with at least 10 male youth (homogenous members)

e.   Four KIIs (that include the women’s leader, village/community leader, men’s leader, and youth leader)


Additionally, 4 KIIs in total should be held with Civil Society Organizations and interest groups representing environmental and social objectives, concession-holders, the Government of Liberia and other relevant stakeholders.


iii.                 Quantitative data: The CNA should include a quantitative survey that clearly explores and describes the needs, expectations (in terms of benefits, such as inputs, extension advice, access to credit, transportation, access to markets, income from concessions, etc.) and the challenges faced by smallholder communities located around Oil Palm Concessions areas. The survey should also explore and outline investment risks at the community level and any relationship between investment risk variables and smallholder needs, expectations and challenges.


Triangulation of the information gathered in qualitative and quantitative research is crucial in this assessment, with reflection on how the findings relate to the secondary documentation. Findings from the CNA study must provide useful and reliable information to GROW and other stakeholders to ensure that smallholder communities’ perspectives and best interests are considered, while simultaneously considering investors’ interests in the Oil Palm Outgrow Scheme Operational Model and Financial Plan.  CNA findings and conclusions will strongly contribute to the development and finalization of an Oil Palm Outgrower Scheme Operational Model and a Financial Plan that take into account the interests of all parties.



Tasks, Outputs and Proposed Timeframe




Suggested Timeframe


Inception meeting with GROW and the National Bureau of Concessions (NBC).

1 day


Detailed proposal, including a detailed draft methodology and sampling approach for quantitative data collection, and quantitative and qualitative tools finalized in agreement with GROW and the NBC.

3 days


Recruitment and training of data collectors/enumerators, ensuring that all enumerators sign and abide by the GROW Code of Conduct for enumerators.

4 days


Detailed research work plan

1 day


FGDs, and KIIs, quantitative data collection and entry. 

20 days


Data analysis and CNA Draft Report submitted for comments – written in acc


Skills and qualifications of consultants

GROW is looking for a research consultant(s) or firm with the following skills and qualifications:

·         Expertise in research design and methodology;

·         Expertise conducting Community Needs Assessments using participatory methods;

·         Ability to work with communities in relevant local languages (eg Grand Cape Mount-Vai, Sinoe-Kru);

·         Excellent knowledge of the Oil Palm industry, with particular experience in the Liberian oil palm sector;

·         Experience developing and analysing different Community Oil Palm/Outgrower Schemes and frameworks for the oil palm sector;

·         Strong quantitative data entry and analysis skills, and previous experience using statistical analysis software;

·         Expertise engaging and consulting with diverse stakeholders, including financial institutions, Concession-holders or large commercial firms, local communities, smallholder farmers, Civil Society Organisations, and Government, and presenting research findings;

·         Ability to respond to comments and questions in an appropriate and timely  manner;

·         Ability to write clear, concise reports in English.


Application process and timeline

Interested consultants and companies are invited to submit the following application documents:

·         Expression of Interest (EOI) outlining how the consultant(s) or firm meets the selection criteria and their understanding of the ToR and methodology;

·         A proposed activities schedule/work plan, with attached time frame;

·         Copy of consultant(s) CV(s) who will undertake the assignment;

·         One recent example of a similar Community Needs Assessment research report written by the applicant(s);


·         Detailed financial proposal (budget) based on the above tasks and deliverables.


To Apply


Please send application to Cleopatra Johnson (Cleopatra.Johnson@growliberia.com) by June 8th, 2015 or deliver to GROW Liberia Compound, 19th Street, Sinkor. Please include in the subject line Oil Palm Community Needs Assessment.

Job Category:   Research/Analysis
Job Type:   Consulting
Job Location:   Monrovia and frequent travel to other counties
Job Posted:   Jul 21, 2015
Job Expires:   Jun 08, 2015
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