Liberians must come to appreciate that cassava is an economic development produce that with value addition can create employment and address food insecurity, Michael E. Dey, Cassava Production and Marketing Coordinator for ZOA said Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters at a one-day exhibition held at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in Gardnersville, Dey described cassava as a magic crop that can contribute to food security and employment.
“We’re displaying today lots of cassava fortified products, including coconut gari mixed Vitamin A cassava; odorless fufu, high quality cassava flour, high quality starch, tapioca gari, all produced from cassava,” said Dey.
He appealed to Liberian farmers and entrepreneurs to make maximum use of cassava to address food insecurity in the country by cultivating more cassava, as it is the second most important food for Liberians.
Mr. Dey said cassava would also help to save more money by reducing rice imports into the country. “This is a plant that can survive during any season and it can be used to produce a variety of foods,” he said.
ZOA is an international relief and recovery organization, with support from the European Union (EU). According to its mandate, the organization supports vulnerable people who are affected by violent conflicts and natural disasters in fragile states, by helping them to live dignified and resilient lives.
Dey said ZOA is working in six counties including Bong, Cape Mount, Bomi, Margibi, Montserrado and Gbarpolu, where it has trained about 1,500 farmers and plans to operate in the other nine counties.
He said some of the products made from cassava, including starch and coconut gari, can be obtained from farmers and entrepreneurs and are also sold retail in the various supermarkets in the country.
Mr. Dey said the exhibition was intended to display to the MoA what is being done in the field with farmers and processors, which are ZOA’s major stakeholders.
Agriculture Minister Moses Zinnah said he was pleased that ZOA is one of the leaders in the cassava enterprise in Liberia and Liberian farmers are now adding value to cassava and producing other foodstuff, including eba, coconut gari mix, among others.
He pledged that the MoA will work closely with ZOA and other partners to ensure that value is added to cassava in order to increase food security in the country.
The production of cassava flour in the country is essential and will help to reduce the massive importation of flour into the country by business owners, Minister Zinnah noted.
The increased production of cassava produce will boost food security and address hunger in several parts of the country.
“Some of our farmers and entrepreneurs have been trained by ZOA to ensure that we have many foods from cassava at the various markets,” Dr. Zinnah stated, adding, “We want to encourage other farmers and entrepreneurs to engage in activities that will increase food for our people.”
He said the Ministry will continue to work with all partners to ensure that hunger is kicked out of the country.
Minister Zinnah lauded members of ZOA and a team from the MoA for working to support Liberian farmers.