The Novella Project: developing a sustainable supply chain for Allanblackia oil


  • L. Attipoe
  • A. Van Andel
  • S.K. Nyame


The Novella Project, a collaboration between a commercial company (Unilever), an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) (SNV Netherlands Development Organisation), local NGOs, local businesses, collectors, transporters and processors, aims at developing a strong, effective and sustainable international supply chain for Allanblackia oil. Success of the chain will increase when more local farmers and collectors will find the additional incomes attractive enough to get involved. A strong chain, with clear business opportunities, will encourage the local communities not only to protect the Allanblackia trees, but also to offer similar protection to all trees in the forest, thereby contributing to explicit sustainable forest management and maintenance of biodiversity. Unilever has already shown commitment to developing a sustainable supply chain by offering to support local communities to plant more Allanblackia trees on their farms and closer to the communities. The project’s choice to focus on the empowerment of women is strategic as their participation can lead to improved livelihoods and stability of family incomes, which are important objectives of the project. For the commercial partners, including Unilever, a strong market chain is expected to translate into an acceptable return on investment. The chain is in its development stage and is confronted with a number of challenges. The collection of seeds from wild-growing trees in dense tropical forest and low tree density in village areas lead to high transaction costs for collection of the seeds along the chain. Also being a new market chain intense information, education and communication is required over a long period throughout the project areas to transfer knowledge, skills and project information to current and potential supplychain actors. In the complex partnership different interests risk to compete with common defined objectives. There is the challenge of increasing involvement of local businesses and investments in the key areas of the chain. SNV has a crucial responsibility in addressing these challenges by supporting different partners involved in the project.