The outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia in 2014 affected food production and other major agricultural activities. Farmers could no longer work in groups on their farms because of fear of body contact. As a result, the savings of women farmers were depleted.
To mitigate the effects of the situation, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations received funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and swiftly moved to help Liberian farmers in collaboration with the Ministries of Agriculture (MOA) and Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP).
The initiative was aimed at restoring their Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) as well as increasing food production.
In Bong, Lofa, and Nimba counties, where the project was implemented, 200 female farm groups numbering 6,000, received training in improved lowland development, vegetable production, and village savings and loan management.
Koyeah Women’s Cooperative, with a membership of 26 rural women and four men, organized in Senlay, Nimba County is supported by the SDC-funded project. The women recently disbursed L$381,810 from the VSLA program, an amount that was generated from the US$1,000 provided by the FAO in February 2016 as cash injection into the VSLA.
Madam Jestina Mywurue, chairlady of the cooperative, said they were grateful for their first disbursement in Cycle One.
“It was FAO who came and introduced the VSLA and provided US$1,000. Besides the cash, they also provided a rice mill and de-stoner for the lowland rice production,” she said.
Madam Mywurue said the VSLA training has improved the business management skills of the members of the cooperative. “Since the group was established, we were only involved in agriculture production; but the VSLA has increased our income,” she added.
Comfort Boah received L$19,000 from her 15 shares (1,000 per share) through the VSLA. “I am receiving L$19,000 in total – L$15,000 cash saved and L$4, 000 interest generated,” she added.
Speaking on behalf of the FAO Representative in Liberia, the FAO Program Interim Support, Mr. Jesse Yuan, reaffirmed FAO’s commitment to provide support to the Government of Liberia to improve food security.
He assured the farmers that as they have started the journey, the FAO will continue to support their efforts with whatever assistance they would need.