In an effort to improve cassava production in the country to meet consumers’ taste, the international charity, ZOA, has embarked on distribution of modern cassava processing machines or graters in six of Liberia’s 15 counties.
The counties include Margibi, Bong, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and Montserrado, respectively. Nine groups from six communities in Margibi recently benefited from the distribution, including Gwekpolosue, Vahyeamah, Velley-Ta, Richard-Ta and Borloquelleh, among others.
Speaking to reporters in Gwekpolosue, District #4 in Margibi during presentation of one of the cassava processing machines, ZOA agriculture coordinator assigned in the county, Weedor Moore, said, the exercise is meant to add value to cassava production by encouraging beneficiaries to grow more cassava in order to earn more money.
He said all along, farmers have been processing cassava manually, which slows down production. Mr. Moore added that having noticed that people in these communities are greatly involved in cassava planting, the charity deems it prudent to distribute processing machines among farmers to boost production.
According to him, ZOA has worked with farmers in the past two years, beginning with training them on various methods of growing cassava. He narrated that since the exercise and formation of various groups, farmers have cultivated large cassava farms, noting that in order to motive them to do more and enhance their work, “it is important that they be given these machines.”
He said following the training exercises, the charity provided tools and gave each group of nine Village Saving Loan Association (VSLA) US$685 in all six communities. The ZOA agriculture technician put the cost of each of the machines at US$1,375 but added that to take ownership, each community is required to contribute 20 percent of the said amount.
He then challenged the farmers to continue with their work in order to become self-reliant. For his part, ZOA cassava production and marketing coordinator, Michael E. Dey, said, the distribution of machines is part of the value chain development, which is demand driven.
He said in order for farmers to be able to sell their produce, the organization is also creating market linkages between them and buyers or customers. Mr. Dey indicated that ZOA is there to address constrains faced by cassava farmers in processing and marketing their produce.
He, however, called on the benefiting communities to grow what they eat and eat and sell what they grow to make more money.
By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi