President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, recently commissioned a modern cassava processing hub in Dee Town, Bensonville City, Montserrado County that is equipped with various processing equipment.
The cassava processing hub which is being operated by the Destiny Women Inc is part of the Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC) project under the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) that is focused on accelerating food production through value addition to ensure domestic food security, better livelihoods of rural citizens and boost foreign exchange earnings.
Cassava is one of the agricultural commodities, including rice that contributes to about 50% of the country’s agriculture GDP.
The processing hub commissioned by the Liberian leader on November 27 is valued at about US$197,000.00 and has the capacity of producing 1 ton per hour, according to the project coordinator of SEPEC, William Kawalawu.
Kawalawu, stated that his institution has completed the construction seven cassava processing hubs in Bomi, Montserrado, Bong, Sinoe and Grand Bassa counties.
Speaking at the official commissioning ceremony, President Sirleaf expressed excitement about the level of involvement by Liberian women in the agricultural sector.
She noted that with the step, the group of women has taken in food production; it is of no doubt that women contributions can help transform the agricultural sector.
“Today as we commission this machine with the help of our partners, especially World Bank, we want to say a big thank you to the Women of Destiny for their effort. We hope this will help you intensify your production,” she said.
President Sirleaf reiterated her government’s commitment to empowering women in the agriculture sector of the country and lauded her international partners for the high level of support to the women group.
“It is important to note that women’s participation in the agricultural sector of Liberia is another boost to Liberia in food production”, she added.
The chief executive officer (CEO) of the Destiny Women Inc, Comfort Jallah, said that they were happy for the construction of the processing center as it will enable the beneficiaries to generate income and create market access for smallholder cassava farmers.
‘‘We the “Destiny Women” are highly excited, and would like to assure the Government and our partners that this facility will help reduce the huge importation of flour in the local market”, she said.
Comfort disclosed that her organization will create employment opportunity for more residents in the community.
We are currently supplying the local market as well as the international market with various cassava products.
Jallah further mentioned that they are working with two hundred and fifty cassava farmers in Montserrado County to supply raw cassava tubers to the facility.
“The group is involved in the processing of a high quality gari, dipper, fufu for the market”, she added.
For her part, the cassava value chain consultant at SAPEC, Toyin Adetueji, said the cassava hub will serve as an opportunity for cassava farmers to increase production as it create access to market.
She said that SAPEC has three areas of focus, including cassava, rice and other vegetables, adding that her institution is creating processing opportunity to improve smallholder farmers’ income.
“Liberia will only be on par with other countries in terms of agriculture if farmers’ capacities are buttressed through food production,” she noted.
Adetueji disclosed that the processing hub will have a cross section of farmers in and around Bensenville to supply the processing hub.
“We are using the value chain approach; meaning, from production to processing to market, until it gets to the table of individuals,” she added.
She, however, revealed that an additional six processing hubs in the targeted counties are shortly expected to be commissioned through other partners in other parts of Liberia.