The creation of a market for smallholder farmers to sell paddy rice is critical for the development of Liberia’s rice value chain. Access to markets for this commodity can empower smallholder farmers to generate more income and expand production.
The Gbehlay-Geh Rural Women’s Multi-purpose Cooperative, located in Karnplay, Nimba County recently bought 53.55 metric tons (1,071 50kg bags) of the rice from smallholder farmers in villages in the district.
The paddy rice purchase was made possible through a loan from the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) and the Liberia Entrepreneurial Asset Development (LEAD) through a digital financial service (DFS) transaction in collaboration with Orange-Liberia, GSM.
In January, LADA partnered with LEAD and Orange to pilot the use of DFS in agricultural lending to increase a sustainable amount of the income of smallholder farmers.
\Under this collaboration, LADA provided a grant of US$50,000 to LEAD, who matched it with an additional US$100,000 loan to 57 members of the Gbehlay-Geh Organization. In March, the loan was made to 57 members of the organization using the smile mobile money platform to purchase paddy rice for milling.
The chair lady of the Gbehlay-Geh Rural Women’s Multi-purpose Cooperative, Madam Annie Kruah, told the Daily Observer recently in Karnplay that the loan has empowered her organization to create a market for many smallholder farmers in the district.
She said that her organization intends to buy more paddy rice from the farmers for processing within the next few months .
According to Madam Kruah, her group is also empowering smallholder farmers with the loan as outgrowers to expand farmers’ production capacity and increase the supply of paddy for milling.
“We expect to increase the income of more smallholder farmers through the purchase of paddy. This effort is encouraging farmers to expand rice fields, thereby increasing productivity,” she said.
Madam Kruah explained that the paddy rice will be processed and sold at community markets and to institutional buyers.
“Thanks to the people and government of America for introducing the LADA project in Liberia that is helping to increase access to finance for rural farmers. It is our hope to help reduce rice importation and increase the availability of clean processed rice in the farming villages,” she added.
The Gbehlay-Geh Rural Women’s Multi-purpose Cooperative is comprised of predominantly women farmers. The group is engaged primarily in rice and cassava value chains. LADA intends to strengthen the capacity of the Gbehlay-Geh farmers through finance and the provision of mechanized equipment. The women’s farming group in the fiscal year 2018 will receive an industrial rice milling machine that will enhance their production and processing capacities.