Market women in the Mount Barclay area, on the outskirts of Paynesville, have thanked President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for providing them the enabling environment for doing business.
Speaking through their chairlady, Ms. Christiana Miller, the women said President Sirleaf has elevated them not only as cross-border traders but farmers as well – a transformation they say has greatly impacted their lives and families.
She said that extending their market business to farming was made possible through the assistance of President Sirleaf following a fellowship trip with Malawian market women.
According to an Executive Mansion release, Madam Miller was speaking at the commencement of the harvest of a rice farm under the auspices of the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund (SMWF) – an NGO that promotes Liberian market women through empowerment.
“When the President made us to visit Malawi, where we saw market women also do farming as part of their marketing, we learned that lesson, and here we are, Madam President,” Madam Miller told a smiling Liberian President.
Earlier this year, a group of Liberian market women toured Ghana and Malawi where they exchanged ideas with their counterparts about business, especially cross-border trade. There were reciprocal visits by Ghanaian and Malawian marketers to the other countries.
Also making remarks, the Executive Director of the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, Mrs. Margretta Sawo Smith-General, said the farm is the pilot project in Montserrado County, similar to those replicated in a few other counties.
“Immediately after the harvest of this rice, Madam President, we will begin planting vegetables in an effort to maximize the yield of the land, which was lent to us by the family of Vice President Joseph Boakai,” Mrs. Smith-General told the President.
The President of the Liberia Marketing Association, Mrs. Lusu Sloan, thanked the SMWF for working with marketers in improving their lives. She used the occasion to call on the Ministry of Agriculture to provide training opportunities for marketers that will help the members produce food for the market.
On behalf of the Boakai family, Mr. Augustine Tamba told the Liberian leader that they were pleased to form part of the President’s vision of creating a conducive environment for Liberian market women’s self- actualization, as demonstrated by the land provided, them and promised, on his family’s behalf, their continuous cooperation with the market women.
In a brief response, President Sirleaf said she was proud of the marketers for taking marketing to another level. She was happy that lessons learned from travels to other countries can be physically demonstrated back home for the common good of Liberia’s food security.
She challenged them to get other market women involved as a means of increasing production. President Sirleaf was accompanied to the harvest site by Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sirleaf Market Women Fund, Ms. Olivia Shannon.