The Zoadeor Farmers Association (ZFA) in Karnplay, Nimba County, is redefining the role of its members in their various homes by addressing the need for self-reliance in financial management.
They came together to form the Village Savings Loans Association (VSLA), which gained support through a pilot initiative of USAID-FED.
The Chairman of the all-woman Zoedeor Farmers Association, Mrs. Mary K. Dinyea, on Thursday told a team of journalists on a tour organized by USAID-FED that the association can now boast of over L$2million in revenues after three years.
Mrs. Dinyea said USAID-FED trained them to handle micro-finance loans and linked them with financial institutions capable of providing loans for them to expand their farms.
“Women bought shares at L$300 in ZFA, and any amount loaned out accumulates 10% interest,” Mrs. Dinyea said.
Liberia Entrepreneur Access Development (LEAD) loaned ZFA L$500, 000 to start its village savings loan initiative in 2013.
“ECOBANK gives us loans whenever we apply because we have matured into an institution of trust based on what we have generated over the three cycles (3 years) of our operations,” Mrs. Dinyea confirmed.
ZFA, whose membership comprises of 160 women from Karnplay and its surroundings in Gbeleaygeh District, grows rice, cassava, peanuts and vegetables and sells them to local consumers, institutions and organizations.
A member of ZFA only identified as Oretha, expressed gratitude to USAID-FED for empowering them to take responsibility through special farm care training and links to markets.
Oretha told reporters that her voice in her home is valued more today than before because she is contributing to sustaining her family alongside her husband.
“I don’t just listen but say something and do something to help my husband in taking care of our home and sending our children to school,” Oretha said.
The women, however, complained about the unfavorable market conditions where buyers dictate the price of produce.
According to the ZFA they are compelled to sell their crops at prices determined by the buyers because the farm to market roads are in bad condition and they fear losing their produce due to the lack of storage facilities.
The women’s group appreciated USAID-FED for its support and called on the Liberian government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, to assist them with farming tools and seeds in order to expand their farms and sustain the gains they have made over the years through the assistance of USAID-FED.
Over 700 VLSAs are currently operating in six counties. USAID-FED has provided farmers with rice hubs and power tillers to enable them to cut down on human labor costs.
The US$75million five year (USAID-FED) project, which began in 2012, is expected to close in December 2016, but will be leaving some improved farming systems as well as mechanized tools for farmers to work with in Bong, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, Nimba, Margibi and Lofa counties.
USAID-FED is one of the US Government’s global food security projects launched in Liberia in 2012 as a means to help farmers transition from subsistence farming to commercial farming.