The Liberian branch of Solidaridad West Africa recently graduated 80 farmers in contemporary cocoa management practices, as part of the entity’s effort to improve farmers’ capacity in the cocoa sector.
The training, which Solidaridad West Africa is implementing in the country, was conducted under the Liberia Cocoa Sector Improvement Program (LICSIP).
The three-week Trainer of Trainers (ToT) workshop was held in Ganta, Nimba County. It brought together Farmers’ Field School Facilitators, which are people who voluntarily serve as extension officers. They were introduced to some of the best practices in cocoa nursery establishment, management of farmers’ field school, rehabilitation of cocoa farms that involve under-brushing, shade management, fighting cocoa diseases and pests management.
According to a release from Solidaridad West Africa- Liberia, the training, which is being implemented in Lofa and Nimba counties, was designed to improve the capacity of Farmers’ Field School Facilitators that are in the LICSIP project counties.
Participants were drawn from selected communities where the program is being implemented.
The release quotes Sylvanus Agordorku, a lead trainer on Solidaridad’s workshop, as saying that those trained facilitators will return to the various communities to train other cocoa farmers.
“There are several cocoa farmers in these communities, but they don’t have support in terms of information sharing, knowledge and skills. We expect the facilitators to run the various schools for 10 months by teaching them what we learned earlier,” said Agordorku.
He said the ToT model could impact farmers and other agents that are working along the cocoa value chain, adding: “If we get this right, we will have enough farmers doing the right thing, and thereafter, we will be producing quality cocoa with the desired yields to change the lives of the struggling farmers.”
The Program Associate of Solidaridad West Africa-Liberia Kefi Conteh, said cocoa has been one of the cash crops in the sub-region, and his organization is making effort to have a strong presence in the cocoa value chain.
Conteh said that Ivory Coast and Ghana are driving the region in the production of the crop, but that Liberia has a promising future, especially with the support the European Union (EU) was giving through the LICSIP.
“Liberia is at present contributing less than 1% of the cocoa coming out of the region, but the soil here is better than some of the other places that are producing more. The LICSIP hopes to address this problem under our activity, to improve farm-level production,” he said.