Liberian forest producers over the weekend showcased a variety of forest products at a well-organized trade fair held in Monrovia.
The trade fair, which is the first of its kind since the end of the country's civil conflict, aimed to bring together forest producers to showcase their products as the result of involvement in preserving the forest.
It was organized by the Farmer Union Network of Liberia (FUNL) in collaboration with the FAO-Liberia Forest Farm Facility (FFF) program with support from the FFF of Rome, Italy. The forest producers who attended the event displayed products such as cloth made from cotton, food and medicinal items, and charcoal produced from the degraded land of the forest.
Forests are home to more than half of our species found on land, a rich variety that keeps many of our most vital natural systems running from keeping our climate stable by absorbing carbon dioxide. However, deforestation still posed a serious challenge for most countries around the world.
In the case of Liberia, FUNL is working with partners to educate the indigenous on how to preserve the forest to ensure better living conditions for forest dwellers. The President of FUNL, Josephine Francis, said that the fair was organized to showcase some of the rich potentials of the forest of Liberia.
She said due to the need to preserve the forest, her organization is working with the indigenous people in the counties to make living from the forest in a sustainable way.
“The forest of Liberia has a great potential so we trained the farmers to add value to forest products,”' she explained to reporters.
She mentioned that the intervention is helping forest dwellers on how to preserve the forest and not to destroy it. According to her, the activity is being carried out in five counties, including Grand Bassa, Nimba, Lofa, Montserrado, Gbarpolu, and Grand Cape Mount counties.
Madam Francis, a former Liberian lawmaker, stressed the need for more programs and policies that will make Liberia better manage its forest resources.
“We would like to see more programs aimed at improving the lives of rural people who depend solely on the forest. We make rural people use the forest in a sustainable way. The people are no longer using the forest as before. They are taught with various kinds of value addition,” she said.“The farmers are trained not only in value addition but also in business skills to make a living from the forest."
Meanwhile, she has expressed the need to extend the program in other rural communities.
“The Political will is what we need to improve forest programs as compelled to their countries in the sub-region. The Political will to ensure forest programs will make the country slow down on deforestation,” Madam Francis emphatically stated.
“We’re of the conviction that our activities help to reduce the level of deforestation. This country is blessed with a lot of forest products, however, the indigenous are getting to know the importance of preserving the forest and not to get it not destroyed,” Hans Massaquoi, a forest producer, told reporters.
Mr. Massaquoi said that the country forest program needs to be supported to improve the lives of rural people and to contribute to the economy.