-In The Area Of Value Chain
By R. Joyclyn Wea
As part of the UN Women Flagship Program on Climate-smart Agriculture with FAO and WFP in Liberia and in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection amongst others, UN Women Liberia Country Office, with assistance from its Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal, is proposing an investment under the FPI CSA framework to enhance agro-food trade and access to markets for rural women farmers.
This investment support cooperation among rural women farming groups and cooperatives in strategic agro-food value chains, building upon existing and past national initiatives (JP FSN 2008- 2013; JPRWEE 2014 – present, etc.) One of the selected value chains is the cassava sector.
The investment in question seeks to address some of Liberia FPI on CSA priorities, as well as national government’s policy for micro-, small and medium enterprises and its aim to enhance private sector participation in policy processes thus offering capacity building in value chain development, particularly for cassava as a crop.
It is against this backdrop that UN Women Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal support the UN Women Liberia Country Office for the holding of a weeklong ‘Technical Workshop on Rice & Cassava Value Chain Development in Liberia’ with rural women farmers and cooperatives that are benefitting from the JPRWEE and other similar initiatives with national government and the United Nations.
The training which was held at the Millennium Guest Hotel in Congo Town brought together fifty rural women from the fifteen political subdivision of Liberia to be trained as ambassadors to go back into their respective counties and trained other women in the area of cassava value chain.
Speaking with participants at the close of the trained over the weekend, Brence Twehway, Vice President Grand Bassa Rural Women said the training was rewarding in that they did not know before.
According to her, the training has prepared them as ambassadors to impact the knowledge gain to other rural women in their counties, districts and communities how to added value to their products in the way that would be safe for human consumption and to meet international standards.
With the training we now have the opportunity to market our product outside the Country depending on our effort,” Ester Clerk, President, Margibi County Rural Women.
Madam Clerk bewailed “Everything we do was based in Liberia but, with the training, we now have the opportunity to market our products outside Liberia.”
She further indicated the need to encourage other women saying “Anyone can be anyone some way somehow to benefit their family and children.”
Accordingly, Teta Lloyd President Rural Women River-Cess County the training was worthy in that we got firsthand knowledge on how to produce local flower and other things from cassava flower.
She asserted that they were given equipment to help enhance their work and during the period of production which is the first of its kind in the country.
This will further incorporate other rural women in the counties to get engage with agricultural activities something that would eventually change their lives for the better.
Also remarking, Victoria Kollie, National Treasure Cross-Border Trade Women: salute former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the women of Liberia because according to her it was madam Sirleaf influences that make them where they are today.
“This training is different in that it is advance because we are using one thing to make several different products,” she explained.
Agriculture is the primary livelihood for more than 60 percent of Liberia’s population and provides sustenance for many households engaging in cassava, rubber, rice, oil palm, cocoa, or sugarcane production.
More households engage in cassava production than any other crop. However, overall agricultural productivity is low, resulting in Liberia importing more than 80 percent of its rice, making the country vulnerable to global food price volatility.
Poorly integrated, the sector lacks basic infrastructure such as machines, farming equipment/tools, farm-to-market roads, fertilizers and pesticides, and food storage capacity.
Cassava and rice are the primary staple food crops. The main cash crops and foreign exchange earners are rubber, cocoa, and timber. Rubber is one of the dominant generators of state revenues, accounting for 17.5 percent of the total export receipts in 2017.