As part of efforts to support initiatives that would improve Liberia’s agriculture sector, a non-governmental organization, Grow-Liberia, has embarked on a partnership venture with the Liberia Agriculture regulatory Authority, formerly the Liberia Marketing and Produce Corporation (LPMC) that will benefit over 3,000 thousand cocoa farmers in Liberia.

GROW is a private sector development initiative operating in Liberia to promote pro-poor economic growth and stability through partnerships with the private sector with the aim of reducing poverty and increase stability in Liberia for 230,000 poor women, men and youth in targeted agricultural markets by facilitating systemic market change across a variety of sectors

According to GROW’S Team Leader, Yoqual Lavala, under the partnership; his entity is rendering support to the LPMC and local cocoa farmers in Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties to boost the production of cocoa in Liberia.

“Grow-Liberia responsibilities include the provision of technical support to LPMC to help develop a sustainable market price information system to disseminate market price information to cocoa farmer at the point of sale; procure one desk-top computer with one year internet connection and capped at US$50.00 per month; facilitate and fund for a period of seven months the dissemination of cocoa prices on eight rural and national radio stations in Bong, Lofa, Montserrado and Nimba Counties,” Lavala noted.

Speaking at a turn over ceremony of series of items including a desktop computer at the LPMC compound at the Free Port of Monrovia on Thursday, October 12, the Grow-Liberia Team leader noted that GROW is currently working with over 3000 UTZ certified cocoa farmers in several communities in eastern Nimba including Buutuo, Duaplay and Karhnplay.

UTZ is the world’s largest cocoa certification program working together with key industry members such as Mars, Nestle and Heinz to create an efficient sustainability program with effective certification and traceability tools for socially and environmentally responsible cocoa production that meets the needs of both producers and markets.

He stressed that it is important for the local farmers to be aware of the price of cocoa so as to promote fairness and enable farmers to get the maximum profits of their products; noting that there are clear indications that cocoa will make a big boost to the agriculture sector of Liberia in the near future.

“If you look at the soil condition, the fact we are deciduous forest, and the fact that our climatic condition adjust well with perennial crops makes cocoa one of the best crops for us. At the same time it is a forested crop. If you manage it well, most of our natural forest here can be preserved. So it works well for Liberia."

"We have the right rainfall, we have the right temperature, we have the right moisture; and it works well for us. It is one crop that gives us the competitive advantage, he averred.

LPMC’s Deputy Managing Director for Administration, Andrew S. Allakamenin, describing the partnership as a win-win situation, called on GROW to assist in constructing warehouses for farmers to address the challenges of storage and erect bill boards in the communities.

He acknowledged that although the internet and radio stations are vital media to convey information to the local farmers, Grow-Liberia should also think about erecting billboards in the community to place the prices of cocoa and other vital information within the sector, something he believes will serve as another effective tool of communication. He asserted that part of his agency’s mandate is to ensure that Liberia cocoa is certified and farmers are given the fair share of their produce and trained to bargain their products.

“It is a win- win situation, the farmers win, LPMC wins and grow wins. I want to thank you for the donation. We look forward with more networking when the new government takes over."

"Our indicative price helps the farmers to bargain. To some extent farmers need financial help, support, fermentation process, when LAGRA comes into place the sector will boom,” the LPMC Deputy Managing Director noted.

In a brief interview with reporters, the Intervention Assistant of Grow-Liberia, Joseph B. Johnson noted that under his entity’s Warehousing Aggregation intervention,Grow-Liberia has renovated a warehouse in Karnplay and built one in Buutuo that is able to take in 800 tons of cocoa; and in addition provided 25 dryers to farmers with each holding up to 400 kilograms of cocoa.

“We conducted a market survey analysis within the cocoa sector and we find out that warehousing was a major problem. There is nowhere to stack the cocoa; so as the result it is exposed to the heat and too much air and the moisture content gets so high. At that level, you cannot sell the cocoa the price you want to.

"So, Grow-Liberia has been working with African Venture Limited over the year and we renovated a ware house in Karnplay and build one in Buutuo which hold 800 tons of Kilo. So that is the rationale behind program, to see farmers attain the reality of what they are doing in the field,” Johnson explained. 

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