By Naneka Hoffman
International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with the Farmers Union Network of Liberia (FUNL) has concluded a week-long training program on the importance of cooperatives for coffee producers.
The goal is to assist cooperatives in the process of creating coffee cooperatives in Liberia to boost revenue.
Speaking on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, at the close of the exercise, in Gbarnga, Bong County, a coffee expert from Burundi, Ephrem Sabatigita, said Liberia has a very great potential for coffee production but to make the commodity marketable, there is a need to transition from farming associations into cooperatives.
Mr. Sabatigita explained that he was in Liberia to assess coffee production here and to ensure that farmers are educated on how they can develop their coffee farming businesses.
The Program and Project Director at the Cooperative Development Agency of Liberia, Harris Wennie, said the Agency is working with ITC and FUNL to ensure that coffee farmer associations are transformed into cooperatives.
He welcomed the capacity building for farmers, especially the process of educating farmers on the need to transition to cooperatives, adding: “This is the only way that coffee farmers can get more money from their labour.”
Mr. Wennie explained that the coffee market is volatile because many farmers sell their coffee to neighboring countries, receiving very little profits.
He noted that many coffee farmers in Liberia inherited those farms from their parents and have returned to active coffee farming.
The training held from July 4 to July 12, 2023, in Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties ended on Wednesday.
However, ITC and FUNL are collaborating with the CDA and the Ministry of Agriculture to establish three coffee cooperatives in Bong, Nimba and Lofa, respectively under the banner, ITC/ACP EU-funded Business Friendly Coffee project of Liberia.