Farmers in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties over the weekend confirmed to reporters the improvements in their living conditions and incomes through the cassava value chain and village savings loan programs implemented by ZOA and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency). The programs are funded by the EU.
The Chief Executive Officer of Falama Incorporated, Angie Howard, said she was delighted with the level of impact the programs have so far made on the lives of the farmers, which serves as a motivation for them and others, especially women, to engage in large scale farming.
She said with training and capacity building from ZOA and partners, including the provision of machines, they are now using cassava to produce flour, starch, high quality fufu, farina, tapioca, cassava chips, odorless fufu, fufu powder, cassava balls, coconut farina, among a variety of value chain products.
Farmers recounted the level of improvement in their living conditions when some of the beneficiaries visited villages and towns in two counties on Saturday, January 28, including Malama, Gangama, Korsor, Gbatoja, and Johnny Fahnbulleh Town.
Madam Howard said: “Many Liberians are of the belief that not much can be made from cassava, to which they pay less attention. The ZOA program has made the farmers to choose cassava farming as the best or most sustainable means for improving their living conditions.”
She said with the positive impact of the cassava value chain thus far, there is a need to train 1,500 more people in each district to help better their living conditions through cassava farming.
Falama, she said, has trained 35 persons to generate various products from cassava, with a plan to scale up that number, adding that they are currently working with 150 farmers who are committed to farming.
Grandma Konneh, one of the training beneficiaries, said: “We can today boast of improvements in our lives through ZOA’s programs. We want to call on the European Union to extend the program to other towns and villages across Liberia to ensure that the living conditions of more people are improved.”
She said prior to the ZOA and ADRA program, a plastic bag of fufu and a cassava bag were sold for L$50 and L$600 respectively, adding that, “Today, we are selling a plastic bag of fufu for L$200 and a bag of cassava for L$1,200.”
In addition to raising their sources of income, another beneficiary, Morris Johnson said ZOA has also provided them with an alternative method of planting cassava that reduces energy while increasing production.
“Today, we have seen our dreams come to pass. It is a great thing that God has done for us through ZOA and ADRA, and we believe that He will do more for farmers and Liberia,” he said.
Dr. Chris MacLullich, Country Director/Program Manager for ZOA, said the EU through ZOA has supported the whole value chain from individual farmers to agro processors who are adding value to gari and making products like coconut gari, which is now in great demand.
“Cassava is the second most important food crop in Liberia and this project has demonstrated how farmers and agro-processors can really make money from producing cassava. This project is very much in line with the Liberian Agricultural Transformation Agenda (LATA) which the Ministry of Agriculture will launch very soon,” Dr. MacLullich said.
ZOA is an international relief and recovery organization supporting vulnerable people affected by violent conflicts and natural disasters in fragile states, by helping them to realize dignified and resilient lives.
ADRA is a humanitarian agency operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church for the purpose of providing individuals and communities with development and disaster relief.