-Liberian-made produce can now be easily found
By Alvin Worzi and Gloria T. Tamba
It appears that the dreams of Liberian businesspeople and farmers have finally come to realization after years of daunting challenges to obtain or have a center that hosts Liberia-made products.
Today, the Liberian Marketplace, which is located at the Nancy Doe Jorkpentown Market, 8th Street, Sinkor, hosts thousands of Liberia-made products, including country cloth, jewelry, slippers, cassava flour, kernel oil, pepper sauce, grinded bonnie, liquid soap, hair food, moringa root mixed with ginger, lappas among others.
According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), the Liberian Marketplace is intended to provide direct access to Liberia-made products, ensuring that farmers and entrepreneurs sell their products in a more accessible and convenient place.
The Liberian Marketplace was renovated with the help of local and international partners. It has a playground and plans are underway to build a daycare center for the children of marketers, space for an adult literacy program on the premises, as well as provide running water at the facility.
During President Sirleaf’s visit, she promised to buy pepper, rice and other commodities and praised Minister Axel M. Addy for his level of engagement with businesspeople, as well as farmers.
“Every second Saturday in the month, we bring vegetable farmers from Margibi, Careysburg, Bentol, Duala and other places to sell at the Liberian Marketplace. Farmers bring peppers, okra, greens, onions, cassava leaves, tomatoes and other vegetables,” Deputy Minister Andrew Paygar-Flangiah said.
According to him, over 50 farmers are being provided the opportunity to sell their produce at the Liberian Marketplace, which is one of the major challenges faced by businesspeople, and farmers, in the country.
“We have major arrangements with some of the leading supermarkets that come to purchase the farmers’ produce every second Saturday. This is helpful to our farmers, because they will know clearly that they have buyers for their produce,” Deputy Minister Paygar-Flangiah said.
Minister Paygar-Flangiah, who is responsible for Small Business Administration (SBA), said the ministry will continue to support vegetable farmers and small businesspeople to ensure that their products are properly stored and at the same time have buyers.
“We have other small and medium-sized enterprises that come to sell Monday through Friday and are getting customers to buy their produce. We are now working to increase customers for some of the products on sale here,” he said.
“On the second and last Saturday of each month, vegetable farmers bring their goods here for sale. So we want the public to come here on these days to buy their vegetables,” he recommended.
“However,” he said, “this is a completely new idea to the Liberian people and maintaining it would be helpful to the farmers and the entrepreneurs. This is encouraging and welcoming news for Liberia and will continue to carry out massive awareness,” Minister Paygar-Flangiah said. “We are hoping that in the next three to four months, we will have more buyers as well as SMEs to provide the necessary Liberian-made goods.”
He said the Commerce Ministry has decided to help vegetable farmers bring their produce to the Liberian Market Place.
Also speaking, Mohammed Turay, Assistant Minister for Industry and head of the National Standards Laboratory (NSL) at the Ministry of Commerce, praised the level of testing in the country but stressed the need for more equipment.
“We are working to ensure that the goods meet standards, because it helps Liberia in its foreign income generation. If you want to take oil from Liberia, it will have to be tested, which is being recognized internationally,” he said.
Steve Mambu, head of the technicians at the NSL, said the lab is important for trade facilitations, but there exists some constraints.
“We still need equipment, but there must be demand. We can buy and keep equipment based on the need that arises. We are still expanding the lab’s capacity. Currently, we are analyzing food, including water,” Mr. Mambu said.
According to him, the lab has been testing gari in order to make known its nutritional content, including protein and carbohydrates.