Bomi farmers, local NGO agree on 25 hectares deal

More than hundred smallholder farmers living around the forest range of Bomi County have benefited from a direct market linkage to a local NGO for their 25 hectares cassava farm.

Falama Inc., a local agro-processing company has agreed to buy harvested cassava tubers from the farmers.

Market linkage for the smallholder farmers is done through the intervention of the Liberia Forestry Sector Program (LFSP) sub-component 2.4 which is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Project Management Unit.

According to a background statement of LFSP, the program strategically combines physical, institutional, and community responses for sustainable management of target landscapes.

Project coordinator Saah A. David, Jr., says the project approach integrates activities that include improving land use planning, supporting existing and new protected areas, enhancing people’s livelihoods through community forestry, and placing agriculture on a more sustainable footing to reduce deforestation pressures.

According to him, the Ministry of Agriculture and its Project Management Unit, led the agricultural component of the LFSP, an area which is an alternative for livelihood for residents around the forest.

“The question has been, ‘how do we reduce the pressure on the forest but at the same time, helping to provide livelihood for those who live around the forest?” Mr. David says.

“And that is where the Ministry of Agriculture comes in since it leads the agricultural component of our project,” he continues.

This sub-component of LFSP is being implemented by multiple stakeholders including the Ministry of Agriculture in Bomi, Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties on the rice, cassava, and cocoa value chains.

LFSP came about as a letter of intent that was signed between the Liberian and Norwegian Government in 2014.

The program has six government entities implementing which include, Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), Land Authority, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS).

A local NGO Falama, Inc. was contracted to facilitate and work with the farmers to cultivate the 25 hectares of land through the memorandum of understanding with the landowners.

According to J. Cyrus Saygbe, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) supplied improved cassava varieties to the farmers.

The supply was followed by the provision of tools and technical support to ensure best practices of using standardized technology, Saygbe says.

He adds that the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) engaged Falama Inc., a local agro-processing company that has agreed to buy harvested cassava tubers from the farmers.

Falama Inc. Chief Executive Officer Angie Howard discloses that through the memorandum of understanding with the farmers, her company is building the technical capacity of the farmers by training them into the secondary processing of cassava products that include flour, starch, fufu, depah, farina, among others.

Madam Howard thanked MOA-PIU for linking her company to the farmers, noting that her business has had difficulty in getting cassava from Bomi County.

Also speaking, World Bank Senior Agricultural Specialist Jeanette Sutherland termed the partnership between Bomi County’s farmers and the Falama Incorporated as a step in the right direction to improving the livelihood of farmers in the region.

“The partnership agreement between Falama Incorporated and Bomi County Cassava farmers is, therefore, a step in the right direction,” she says.

She adds that the guarantee of the land rights will provide further opportunities and incentives to Liberian farmers to invest in their farming activities as entrepreneurs but in a manner that will guarantee the sustainability of the land.

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