The lack of vegetable storage facilities is posing a serious difficulty for many farmers and traders across Liberia. Red-light Market in Paynesville, where a lot of agriculture produces are transported every time for consumption, also lacks storage facilities.
Many of these commodities come from rural areas and neighboring countries, including La Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea. Unfortunately, this largest commercial district does not have storage to keep the many fresh vegetables.
Most of the vegetables get damaged during the Dry Season resulting to a huge pile of garbage, which is usually visible at Red-light Market.
The lacked of storage does not only contribute to garbage but seriously minimize the income of both farmers and traders whose livelihood solely depend on such business. The farmers and traders believed that government and partners concentrating on providing storage facilities for them at the Red-light market will greatly help to improve their living conditions.
On Thursday, July 3, they (some traders and farmers) told to the Observer Farmer Desk the need for storage to improve their businesses.
“We cannot earn enough money from our business due to the lack of storage as vegetables bought from the farmers get spoil. This is making life difficult for us because it is through such business that we survive,” Sumo Mulbah, head of the Monrovia Vegetable Seller Association said.
According to Mulbah, due to the lack of employment opportunities, they took interest in serving as middle men for the vegetable farmers for self-employment.
“The farmers do not have the time to reach to these hotels and restaurants so we help by buying their produce at an attractive price to sell,” he stated.
He said that once they get the support from the government and partners for storage, they are negotiating for the spot to construct the facility.
At the same time, Mulbah stressed the need for Liberian vegetable farmers to become strengthen in growing more foreign vegetables.
“These exotic vegetables like tomato and others are imported always from La Côte d’Ivoire in bulk amount. We have a fertile soil that can grow these crops but our farmers will need more supports to grow them,” he said.
Jacob Kpannah, one of the members of the vegetable traders, said most Liberians need education on the importance of the foreign vegetables for nutritional and medicinal purposes.
Meanwhile, when contacted the Deputy Minister of Planning and Research at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Charles McClain explained that his Ministry was aware of the situation of storage for farmers and traders.
He, however, said recognizing the need for such a facility, the Agriculture Ministry proposed to the then Ministry of Finance now Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and they are yet to hear back from the MFDP’s authorities.
Minister McClain stressed the need for private individuals in the country to get involve in the establishment storage for income generation.
The Monrovia Vegetable Seller Association, which was founded six years ago, is aimed at trading with local farmers for exotic vegetables. The organization has a membership of 15 males and 5 females, who have identified market for farmers interested in growing vegetables like cucumber, cabbage, radish, carrot, lettuce, etc. Members of the organization purchase the foreign vegetables and sell them to the various restaurants and hotels in Monrovia. Though they have made business for the past years without any basic financial knowledge, recently 20 of them were trained by USAID Food and Enterprise Development program in business skills. USAID FED also linked them with farmers benefiting from their Urban and Peri urban program to supply them with high cost vegetables.