The USAID Food and Enterprise Development Program or USAID FED, in collaboration with ROSNA INC. has inaugurated a cold storage facility in the northern Liberian Mining Town of Yekepa in Nimba County.
The cold storage costs approximately US$50, 000. USAID FED is working with local entrepreneurs to create a low cost, low tech, cold chain system to manage post-harvest losses. Rosna Services Inc – a Liberian catering company, received a 20ft-refrigerated container from USAID FED for their cold storage facility in Yekepa, Nimba County to store fresh fruits and vegetables which they use for their catering service and sale.
Under the 50% cost sharing arrangement, the company provided a generator, constructed a platform and shed to place and house the refrigerated container, as well as will pay for the operation of the facility, including fuel, maintenance and staff salaries.
USAID FED also trained Rosna Services Inc. staff and other stakeholders in food safety and post-harvest handling, and the best practices for handling fruits and vegetables in a hygienic manner. USAID FED, in collaboration with Rosna Services Inc., will set up another 20-foot cold storage facility in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, while also working with Gbomiah Farms to establish one more cold storage facility in Margibi County.
In total, USAID FED has invested US$134,000 into cold storage facilities to be in the three Counties of Liberia all through cost-sharing arrangements. There are two types of cold storage units currently operating in Liberia – frozen storage for fish, chicken, and meat and cooling boxes for packaged water.
There is virtually no cold chain or storage for fresh vegetables sourced from the counties. There is also no storage-whatsoever, at major market outlets throughout Liberia. The only exceptions to this are major supermarkets with chillers and refrigerated vehicles, not made available for use by farmers or local traders.
All of this leads to high losses of vegetables, poor quality of produce and ultimately low sales. Major constraints to developing a cold storage facility for vegetables include high cost of investment and operation, limited access to land for cold storage facilities in urban areas, lack of low cost energy sources, and the absence of proper packaging options sourced within Liberia.
“USAID FED is trying to transform the horticulture value chain by empowering entrepreneurs such as Rosna Services Inc. to boost their sales through improving their storage methods, which in turn should increase their procurement of fresh produce from farmers,” said Boima Bafaie, USAID FED’s Deputy Chief of Party.
“We are thankful to the Government and people of America for receiving a cold storage facility that will help to improve the income of farmers and entrepreneurs in the country,” said Hannah Blacket, CEO ROSNA Services, INC.
The USAID FED Program for Liberia aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians through increased agricultural productivity and profitability in rice, cassava, vegetable and goat value chains. It is implemented in six counties- Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.
ROSNA’s CEO, Hannah Blacket and USAID FED staff cut ribbon to the cold storage container in Yekepa, Nimba County.