The Vainga Agriculture Development Management and Consultancy (VADEMCO) has built the capacity of 77 local farmers with improved cocoa production, management and disease control practices.
The exercise is part of efforts to promote good cocoa farming practices around the Gola Forest National Park (GFNP) in Grand Cape Mount County.
The 77 cocoa farmers were trained and certificated on July 13, 2019 in Sokpo Clan by VADEMCO in collaboration with the Society for the Conservation of Nature (SCNL) with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Project (WABICC).
The project seeks to promote good farming practices in cocoa to enhance sustainable forest management in the corridor of the Liberian forest, as well as provides more practical knowledge in cocoa farming through “Farmer Field School” methodology to enable beneficiaries to properly manage their cocoa farms.
It is part of the livelihood activity component of the WABICC/USAID-funded program currently being implemented by SCNL.
Suliman V. Kamara, VADEMCO chief executive officer and senior consultant, told the gathering that his organization intends to train more cocoa producers so that Liberia can compete with its neighboring countries.
Kamara then called on the locals to take seriously the cocoa production, because it is one of lucrative cash crops in the world.
“We want you to adopt the new method acquired from the training to improve your living conditions by promoting the cocoa sector,” he encouraged the trainees.
In separate remarks, Anne Gardner, WABICC Project Manager and Michael E. Taire, SCNL Program Manager, lauded the trainees for the skills acquired, and asked them to uphold the practice of sustainable forest management to bring benefits to the communities.
Madam Gardner and Mr. Taire, also urged female farmers benefiting from the training to remain focused in putting into practice skills they acquired.
“Gola Forest is not only important to the locals, but to the rest of the world, because the forest makes rural people self-reliant in food production,” Gardner said.
In a related development, Madam Jaymiatu K. Watson, paramount chief of Porkpa District in Grand Cape Mount County, admonished the locals to work with dedication to maintain the uniqueness of their community forest.
Madam Watson said that at the beginning, the people of Sokpo Clan did not know that the forest had many benefits until VADEMCO and partners began to initiate forest-related programs, which built the farmers’ capacity in smart agriculture.
The program took into consideration the issue of gender sensitivity in which several other women were trained alongside with their male counterparts.
Since 1999, VADEMCO has trained smallholder commercial enterprise farmers in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner by using Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) for cocoa production, post-harvest and quality management practices to improve the lives of cocoa farmers.