The deplorable condition of roads in rural Liberia continues to cause problems for farmers as truck drivers often shy away from transporting farm produce to Monrovia, especially during the rainy season. Mid October is officially regarded as the end of the rainy season, but with lingering rains, rural farmers fear that their produce may perish before reaching the market.
Drivers traversing rural Liberia reported that the deplorable condition of some farm to market roads increased the wear-and-tear of their vehicles to the point that it is not worth venturing into farming communities to collect produce.
From deep in the rural parts of Lofa, Nimba, Sinoe, Maryland and River Cess Counties and other parts of the southeast, truck drivers expressed their frustrations about the muddy roads, dilapidated bridges and deep potholes that they encounter while traveling to and from these areas.
Additionally, they revealed that some of the bridges in these areas are made of logs, which are extremely risky to drive on. The drivers also told the Daily Observer that in such areas they have to gather logs from the bushes to reinforce those hazardous bridges in order to gain access to the towns.
“Areas like Tappita, Sanniquillie, Sinoe, Maryland, ZorZor to Vomjama, River Cess, and the rest of the southeastern region are really difficult places to travel especially when it rains,” said Adonis Kolenka, a commercial truck driver.
The effects of the bad roads connecting rural communities have reduced the amount of agricultural produce on the local market, which Liberians substitute for rice, the nation’s staple food. The situation has also affected the profits of produce sellers, especially those that sell fruits and vegetables. Local farmers and farm produce traders told the Daily Observer that the high cost of transporting produce as a result of bad farm to market roads has caused most of their farm produce to rot.
“If we do not agree on the amount drivers charge us our goods will spoil in our hands while awaiting for another driver and not many drivers come here to us,” Peter Karblee, a farm produce trader from River Cess narrated.
“We are not making much from our businesses because many of the vegetables and fruits remain with us and get rotten. This is bringing more hunger to our families. As for me, this is all I do to sustain my home,” lamented vegetable and fruit seller Madam Rose Smith.
Fruits, vegetables and other farm produce supply the body with a host of beneficial minerals, fiber and phytochemicals (chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants) the body needs to maintain optimal function. The scarcity of these can result in nutrient deficiencies and poor health.