Saa R. James, general manager of the Intofawor Multipurpose Farmers’ Cooperative Society, said his cooperative has secured more than 100 acres of land to grow oil palm in Foya District, Lofa County.
James said the 50 acres have already been developed around the southeast of Foya Airfield, out of 100 acres of secured land.
As for the numerical strength of the farmers, he said the current membership has exceeded 500 potential farmers, who are engaged in diverse crops production in Kolahun and Foya districts.
He added that most the farmers in the cooperative are young men and women, who have demonstrated their determination to expand the farms and, if provided the necessary agricultural equipment, they could greatly improve production.
Mr. James however informed the Daily Observer that in spite of the determination of the farmers to improve their respective productions, they are still confronted with many challenges, especially finding the requisite market to sell their wares.
Unfortunately, the Daily Observer gathered, the farmers are lacking access to markets due to bad road conditions, a situation which now compels them to transport their goods to Guinea and Sierra Leone, where market prices are less than fair.
James added that the farmers need loans to enable them overcome some of the challenges.
He further said that there are huge piles of paddy rice in some of the warehouses in Rankollie, Waum and Taigia farming villages, but buyers are not available in those areas.
“To overcome some of the farming difficulties, the farmers are requesting the presence of the government and partners to, over time, to empower farmers through their cooperatives with the needed funds,” he said.
“Once, the Liberian farmers are not able to access the rural and urban markets with commodities, mainly during the rainy season, farming activities will remain elusive,” James argued.
He suggested the revitalization of the Agriculture Cooperative Development Bank (ACDB) which he said was very responsive to most of the financial and managerial challenges of the farmers’ cooperatives in the country before the civil crisis.
“At the moment in Kolahun and Foya Districts, some farmers have begun investing, and cultivating land to produce eddoes, potatoes, pepper and cotton as well as okra for the various markets,” James added.
He also recalled how, in the late 1970s and mid-1980s, ACDB played some significant roles in the socioeconomic development of thousands of the Liberian farmers in the country.
“I would also like to caution our government to strengthen farmers so that they can increase the production of rice, plantain, banana, cassava and eddoes to boosts our struggling economy,” James stressed.