Liberian coffee farmers are harvesting quality coffee beans this year due to the application of improved practices on old coffee farms that have been abandoned for years.
Many of the coffee farms are more than 50 years old. Though the coffee sector has been neglected, farmers who are still somewhat engaged in the cultivation of the crop in the West African country are experiencing very low and poor quality harvests and yields.
This is partly due to the lack of knowledge on improved post-harvest management practices and techniques.
The farmers are accustomed to the use of rudimentary methods for coffee cultivation.
However, the ACP Business Friendly Project of Liberia, a program introduced in the country, is working to change the narrative through training to boost farmers’ production and incomes.
Implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Farmers Union Network of Liberia (FUNL), with support from the European Union, the project has trained the farmers in post-harvest loss management practices and the method of pruning old farms in order to improve yields.
Interestingly, the farmers are now demonstrating the knowledge acquired from the previous training workshops to boost their harvest this year.
During this harvest, the ITC and its local partner FUNL are encouraging the farmers to keep records of harvests so as to inform potential buyers in the future.
The ITC has partnered with the African and Malagasy Robusta Coffee Agency (ACRAM) to shift the landscape of coffee production and consumption in Africa. In the next few years, coffee farmers in Liberia are expected to immensely benefit from market linkages to improve incomes under the ACRAM’s initiative.
The ACP coffee project covers five counties in Liberia, namely Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Bomi, and Montserrado.But, the reported harvest is currently taking place in the coffee communities of Voinjama and Quadu Gboni districts in Lofa County.
Lofa is one of the major coffee producing counties.
Losene B. Fofana, head of the Quadu Gboni Coffee Farmers Association in Lofa County, said that about 20% of the 1,500 registered farmers of his Association have started harvesting their red cherries from the green on the farm.
“A good number of the association members benefited from training from the project. From numerous trainings, we have or will realize good harvest this harvesting season than ever before. As you can see, women have taken the lead in harvesting the first red cherries from the farms,” Fofana narrated.
Liberia was once a major producer of coffee but the civil war caused many producers to abandon production due to neglect of the sector.
The ACP project’s mission is to revamp the coffee sub-sector of Liberia, paving the way for a brighter future for the coffee industry in the country.
Foster Dennis of the Voinjama District Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative said that about 25 percent of the 758 members of his cooperative in the county have begun harvesting using improved knowledge acquired under the project.
“We are hand picking the ripe cherries and no longer stripping the coffee branches. The farmers are constructing dryers in several of the communities and not drying the beans on the floor. The knowledge of post-harvest management practice has given more farmers confidence in the harvest processes. This makes us thankful to the ITC,” he said.
Since the inception of the project, more than 300 lead farmers and a few extension officers have been trained in post-harvest management practices of coffee to improve the quality of the farmers’ harvest. The lead farmers have also been able to spread the knowledge of harvest to many of the farmers in the targeted counties.