By Judoemue Kollie
At least 41 agro-inputs dealers chosen from Montserrado, Bong, Nimba and Lofa counties have acquired training in the safe use of agro-inputs and business management skills.
The training was organized by the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Agriculture Research Institution, and was recently conducted in Paynesville and Gbarnga, respectively.
LADA, which is the United States government’s food security program for Liberia, aims to work with agro-inputs dealers to build their capacities through training, and the provision of finance so that they can reach smallholder farmers with quality and affordable services.
Currently, the organization has trained a total of 63 agro-inputs dealers and facilitated the establishment of the “Agro-inputs Dealers Association of Liberia (ADAL)” in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture.
ADAL brings together agro-inputs dealers from the 15 counties of Liberia to provide quality services to farmers.
Ambrose Forpoh, Inputs Marketing Manager at LADA, explained during the training that the initiative is meant to train agro-inputs dealers for them to educate farmers on the proper use of various agro-inputs.
“Most Liberian agro-dealers are engaged in agro-inputs businesses, but they lack the necessary skills needed to educate farmers. Because of the role they play in the agricultural sector, LADA recognized the need to build their capacities so that farmers can have the opportunity to receive better education to enhance productivity,” he said.
He said the objective is to transform agro-inputs dealers into extension officers so they can be of great help to farmers.
“We want them to play a role as extension agents, asking the farmers the kind of crops they grow and what should be the right chemical for them to apply. The agro-dealers are very significant in the transformation of agriculture in the country because farmers’ successes depend on their work,” he said.
Forpoh said LADA organized the workshop to provide appropriate business management skills that can help the agro-dealers to properly manage their businesses.
He told the participants that the training will afford them the opportunity to acquire skills in business.
“We have observed that many of you lack financial records to qualify for loan assistance. It is important to note that for a business to access finance from a banking institution, its business transactions should be accurately recorded. It is expected that at the end of this training, you would have acquired basic business management skills,” he noted.
Forpoh said there is additional training to be carried out in the future.
For her part, the president of ADAL, Madam Rebecca Kalayi, said that they were impressed with the level of support from LADA.
“We thank the United States government for introducing the LADA program which is helping to build our capacity as agro-dealers in Liberia. The majority of us had limited knowledge to educate farmers on the proper use of agro-chemicals. But with the intervention of LADA our knowledge has increased to better help farmers,” she said.
She added that the government of Liberia must regulate the importation of agro-inputs to ensure quality and affordable agro-inputs on the market and also empower local dealers to compete with foreigners in the agro-dealer market.
Madam Kalayi said that the formation of ADAL will help address challenges facing agro-inputs businesses to help move the country’s agricultural sector forward.