In three of Liberia’s major food producing belts of Nimba, Lofa and Bong counties, food commodities of various kinds are stranded and continue to rot due to acute transport shortage in those areas.
Generally, major highways in Bong and Nimba Counties are in good shape, unlike some of the feeder roads that need urgent rehabilitation in order for vehicles to transport commodities from the production and harvest points to markets.
It was observed in May and June that produce such as pineapples, palm cabbage and cucumber flooded most of the rural markets in the three counties.
During a few hours stopover in two food producing districts in Nimba County, our reporter found hundreds of pineapples and cucumbers which the farmers had harvested were about to rot in several towns and villages, due to the lack of transportation to bring them to the markets, especially in Monrovia where they are in demand.
Another problem faced by farmers is the lack of proper storage for these highly perishable produce.
The farmers grow pineapple and cucumber in large quantities every year in the hope of selling them at very good prices, but most times are hindered by bad roads which keep vehicles away from their areas.
The pineapple and cucumber producers in Nimba County are appealing to the Liberian Government and its partners to urgently prioritize investment in transport especially for the rural farmers and businesspeople.
Pineapple farmer Francis Gonquoi, 55, of Lee-Wehpea told the Daily Observer that he had invested in producing pineapples for the past five years with little profit.
“If I can transport my pineapples to the city markets on time, my financial condition will change because I will make plenty money and be able to support my family,” said Lee-Wehpea.
He added that transport fares in recent times have sharply increased and that it is now very difficult to commute from one town to another in that area of Nimba County.
Similarly in Bong County lack of public transport vehicles is a serious setback for farmers who produce pineapple, cucumbers and peanuts which they fear will rot before reaching some of the urban markets.
Starting from the official boundary between Margibi and Bong Counties, harvested pineapples and cucumbers were seen on display in every small town and village on the highway.
Due to the sharp increase in transport costs, farmers are unable to transport their produce to urban or markets.
As each vehicle stops at one of the towns on the highway swarms of pineapple sellers storm the passengers with dozens of pineapples and cucumbers for sale.
In the commercial town of Totota in Bong County, one pineapple farmer, Cecelia Tokpa, 44, said that every year her harvested pineapples rot due to acute shortage of transport to convey them to the nearest markets.
“In my view the Liberian Government needs to do more to provide public transport for rural farmers and business people,” Madam Tokpa stressed.
“We are the back bone for the Liberian economy, and giving us support especially in public transport is something we really need,” Madam Tokpa concluded.