To improve Liberia’s agricultural sector, the European Union (EU) has provided over US$25,000 for the promotion, marketing and consumption of cassava products in the country.
Making the disclosure at his Paynesville office, Mr. Joseph S. Morris, coordinator for the National Cassava Sector Coordinating Committee (NCSCC) told the Daily Observer that the money has been processed through ZOA/ADRA, a group of international NGOs that is implementing cassava value development program for the EU in Liberia.
“This promotion is expected to be carried out through the local newspapers, national and community radio stations, television stations, as well as through the use of jingles,” Coordinator Morris said.
He said his organization is working with ZOA/ADRA to implement what he described as ‘the cassava value chain development program.’
“We are involved with the market promotion, because consistent market for cassava and its value added products remains a major problem for the cassava industry in Liberia,” Morris added.
He explained that the exercise will encourage the marketability and consumption of cassava and its value added products that are having difficulties in accessing consistent markets.
He added “We recorded over 120 thousand metric tons of fresh cassava during the Ebola crisis for which there was no market, and we are linking farmers to markets which is critical to cassava value chain development.”
He noted that the NCSCC has embarked on robust market linkages for the cassava sector, both locally and internationally.
In a related development, Mr. Morris said, the NCSCC has initiated discussion with the World Food Program (WFP) to include cassava value added products in the menu for its school program in the country.
Coordinator Morris added that “the discussion is working well, and if concluded WFP will include cassava value added products in the menu of its school feeding program across the country.”
The cassava value added products means turning cassava into gari, super gari as well as mixing cassava with flour that gives value to cassava as a product and makes it nourishing.
The involvement of WFP, he said will boost the marketing and consumption of cassava value added products in the country, and improve food security.
Mr. Morris said the discussion with WFP is expected to conclude in September, this year. “This is good news for the farmers because they can rest assured that they will have markets for their products.”
“It would also encourage more farmers to get involved in the cassava sector, which would enable them to make money to cater to their families,” Morris noted.
Morris said the arrangement with the WFP would expand the sector and bring economic development to both the farmers and consumers.
“Our people have been complaining about lack of markets for their products, now they can feel happy that their worry is over because WFP will be buying most of their produce,” he said.
Among the difficulties cassava farmers have complained about is the lack of markets for their produce, especially fresh cassava.
He said there was no assurance that “cassava brought on the market could be bought for a fixed price, and for any reason, if there was no market for the cassava that day, famers risked losing their produce, as the preservation period for fresh cassava is 48 to 72 hours.”