The word “agripreneur” is to most people a new word. But they can easily detect is meaning. It is the abbreviated combination of two well-known and very important words—agriculture and entrepreneur. That is what Angie Howard has become. As an agripreneur, she is much more than a farmer growing crops from her farms. Far beyond farming, which is the source of all her products, she is attempting a revolutionary new initiative in agribusiness. This is adding value to the food she produces: cassava – from which she produces bread, flour and fufu; bonnie; fruits – which she turns into bottled fruit juices; benny seed and coconut oil – all of which she packages into bottles, jars and other containers and placed on the market.
We find this a wonderful initiative which needs every encouragement, not only by the government, but particularly by all of us, who should buy these products and encourage Angie to do more and succeed big time in what she is doing. See how she describes cassava: “gold dust.” Why? Because it will soon be in demand. She encourages everyone to go to their backyards and plant cassava because soon it will be needed in huge quantities to supply cassava processing plants which she and others plan to establish in many parts of the country.
This is a dream come true! Who remembers George S. Best’s letter to President W.V.S. Tubman in 1944, urging him to establish, on the onset of his administration, canneries to arrest the spoilage of our abundant fruits, vegetables and other perishable foods. Unfortunately, Mr. Best never received a reply to his letter and so Liberia lost an opportunity to become the first West African country to process foods and preserve them in jars, cans, bottles, etc. Now, 73 years later, this young woman, Angie Howard, has taken upon herself this great initiative to preserve Liberian foods and store them in bottles, cans and jars, etc., for sale in the marketplace. We earnestly pray that all Liberians and foreigners in our country will patronize these foods so that this great initiative may succeed and take off.
We call on all cassava farmers, and even non-cassava farmers to get involved in cassava cultivation, in order to supply the cassava mills which Ms. Howard promises will be established all over the country to process cassava. This newspaper, Daily Observer, pledges to publicize the locations of these cassava mills so that farmers may know where to send their produce. All we need is information on where these mills are and how the produce can be picked up and transported to the mills.
In addition to cassava, Angie is also engaged in producing bonnie fish powder, black pepper—black pepper, the imported product that Liberian women and other culinary experts have to buy every week. Yes, Ms. Howard says she is able to produce black pepper! Tell us where we can find this and her other products—benny seed, fufu powder, coconut oil, fruit juices and cassava bread. These are all foodstuffs that Liberians, and we are sure our many foreign residents, would rush to buy.
One last suggestion, Ms. Howard: This and other newspapers would be willing to grant you interviews to tell your story to the nation and the world. But you also need to advertise your products so that people everywhere will know where to find them and go running to buy. Remember, food is big business. And many of these products, which Liberians have always imported and still import, will be most welcome on the local market. Once they are well produced and well packaged, people will buy them.
But, Ms. Howard has one problem, which she mentioned to our reporter—a problem which we believe the Agriculture Ministry could assist with. She has to package her foods in Nigeria, which is costly. The Ministry could, working with our Nigerian partners, find a way to get some of the machinery over here so that at least some, and in time, all of the packaging would be done in Liberia. This would make the packaging cheaper, and the food products less expensive.
We pray that the Agriculture Ministry, working with other Agripreneurs, would take up this challenge.