President Sirleaf Wants More Processing Opportunities for Women Farmers

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President Sirleaf standing_web.jpg

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently visited Songai Liberia which is one of Liberia’s potential agriculture projects in Bensonville and spotted the production of various pieces of agro-equipment produced by the T.R. Enterprise, a local producer of agro processing tools.

Finance and Economic Development minister, Amara Konneh, Agriculture Minister, Florence Chenoweth, Montserrado representative and chairperson on the Houses Committee on Agriculture in the House of Representatives,  Josephine Francis, and other distinguished personalities were all present during the President’s visit.

She seemed very impressed when she was told that the various pieces of  processing equipment were produced right here in Liberia by Liberian entrepreneurs.

While chatting with the production manager and other government officials, the Liberian leader underscored the need for increased processing opportunities for women farmers in Liberia.

Women comprised of nearly seventy percent of the farming population of Liberia serving as producers, processors and marketers.

The Liberian leader disclosed plans for her government to build the capacity of the local agro-processing company (T R Enterprise) in order to produce more of the products for use by women farmers in the country.

This initiative pronounced by the President, when carried out, would greatly enhance opportunities for women farmers in Liberia.

It is recalled that in August of this year, this newspaper highlighted the poor processing conditions of a group of women farmers in Gbarnga, Bong County, named “Walikama farming group.”   These women farmers are engaged in the production and processing of cassava but they processed the product manually. They appealed to the government and non-governmental organizations to provide them with processing equipment to improve their income.   

One of the key constraints to Liberia’s food industry is the provision of limited mechanization and agro-processing tools. This posed a serious challenge of markets  for local farmers as raw produce is usually bought at local markets at low prices. It is established that once farmers have access to processing equipment their productivity increases.

Most of the agro-processing tools used in Liberia are imported from Ghana and other countries. The production of more processing equipment in Liberia would help improve the food industry as farmers can get these farming tools at affordable prices.

Unless this capacity is enhanced, it is unlikely that Liberian farmers will benefit from increased market opportunities.

As part of effort to address the above production challenge, the “T.R. Enterprise” is working to produce agro-equipment locally to enhance the contribution of agro-processing for sustainable improvement in food security  and the livelihoods of farmers, processors and marketers.

The T.K. Enterprise was established in 2011 to help in the promotion of Liberia’s food security through the production, sale and training of local farmers in utilizing agro-tools.

At first, the business stated with the importation of agro-implement from Ghana for sale, until in recent times, when local materials were fermented and produced in Liberia.

The company provides processing equipment like, Stainless Steel Grater and Gari Mesh Sifter, S/S fermentation rack and double screw press, Stainless steel parching trays. Other equipment includes motorized oil palm expeller. 

In a related development, Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh said that government had mobilized more resources externally to support agriculture. What is more needed is to ensure that the resources are put in to proper use to improve food production.

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