The Johnsonville Women Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Inc. over the weekend opened a mini cassava processing center in Harrisburg Township, Montserrado County.
The mini processing cassava center comprises of a storage, grating and washing rooms, as well as drying, roasting and administrative rooms. The center is expected to process about six tons of cassava monthly.
During his speech, the Country Representative of the United States African Development Fund (USADF) urged the Johnsonville Women Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Society’s board to closely work in the best interest of the Cooperative.
“…there are many areas we have worked with previously and seen that their behavior of work changed after they received grant. Few will get together and will become owner of the business; they will begin to take money away and eventually the business will die down. Then what will happen is that the government will become the looser because money given here are part of the money that the American people are giving to Liberia as a whole,” said Peter Wilson.
Wilson also challenged the Cooperative to not feel complacent about the grant offered; that members of the Cooperative, including its board, should see the grant as a business.
“…the end product is what matters in this business; so I will like to encourage you to observe that, because many people [producers] do not observe that. Some are putting in money without taking into consideration what is coming out,” Wilson added.
Earlier EDUCARE, the implementing partner of the USADF, commended members of the Cooperative for their team spirit. EDUCARE however stressed that effort invested by members will determine the success or failure of the Cooperative.
“… it is not an easy thing for people working together in a cooperative, it is very difficult. Working together unveils lots of problems, confusion sometimes will result to split but you guys have been holding on together from the time we started working with you.
“…The issue here is that this building is not the project. This building is beautiful and all of you guys are happy to have such but the project is, how well you will multiply your production through this facility that will make everyone happy,” said Tweh.
Also, the Acting Deputy Registrar of the Cooperative Development Agency (CDA), Harris B. Wennie recalled that cooperatives annually contributed $43m before Liberia’s civil crisis. He added that the cooperative sector has huge potentials that can be realized if the Government of Liberia’s (GoL’s) ‘pro-poor’ agenda is focused on cooperatives.
The Johnsonville Women Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Inc., which started with 24 members in 2013, currently has 83 members. The Cooperative supplies local markets with a variety of its products, including cassava starch starch (cassava deepa) and cassava flour (garri). However, the availability of local packaging materials remains a challenge for the Cooperative.
The Salvation Army, College of Agriculture and Forestry Students Association (CAFSA) World Vision, Farmer Union Network of Liberia, elders, youth and traditional head of Harrisburg were present at the facility’s opening program.