Building better futures in agriculture through ICT
Kpannah Dorley aged 31 and a single mother of 2 children, is the Treasurer of Farwenta Accountability Forum (AF) which forms part of Gbarpolu Sustainable Social Enterprise (GSSE) in Gbarpolu County. Kpanna has lived on growing and selling crops; she likes her duties as a treasurer and would like to add more knowledge and skills to financial understanding. Farwenta is part of ActionAid’s Building Better Futures program. The county is found in the northern portion of Liberia.
The enterprise comprises of four accountability forums with two AF close to each other in terms of distance. The distance difference make two of each forums work more closely to each other (Farwenta and Bopolu; Smith Town and Gbarma Town).
Food value Chain
GSSE is known as the home of Cassava. Cassava is one of the crops that yield good results of food value chain as it produces many foods that are consumed in Liberia. The crop leaves are edable as part of the most popular greens in Liberia and are known as Cassava leaves. The root has several foods it produces and these are; Aber, Fufu, Gari, Super Gari, Dombouy, GB, Acheke, Roasted Cassava and Boiled Cassava. Additional the Cassava root also produces good white starch for starching the white clothes. GSSE received cassava processing machine and it is housed in Farwenta where Kpannah resides.
Production and Sells increase
Since the installation of the Cassava processing machine in the community, my production of making Gari has increased from 10 buckets to 40 buckets every week. The machine serves time and increases the sells” noted Ms. Dorley. “For the AF, we now produce 80 buckets depending on how much Cassava is available.
In Gbarpolu, every Saturday is market day. Kpannah goes to the market early morning around 5.30am with other women of the Farwenta Accountability forum. She sells her own household crops and AF crops, most of the times by 9am they will be all bought. At 6am, business will be flowing at the market. After the sells, Dorley is able to account for the group and her own individual money through a record system. There is no fixed price for the goods; hence there is a lot of negotiations on the prices of the goods. At the end of the day, the sells might be lower or high depending on the biding power one has.
My sells fluctuates between LD$4000 – LD$5000, for the AF it is the same and I usually range between LD$10,000 – LD$15,000 every Saturday. The money sold is recorded against the goods given and profit extracted. Every month the money is taken to the Village serving loan.
Most people, who buy from the AF early in the morning, get goods in bulk and later during the day or midweek they resell the produce at their individual stalls and at a high price to make profits until it is another Saturday.
Farwenta AF, are looking at harvesting their Cassava around March – April 2019, the cassava farm covers two and half acres of land. They anticipate getting more produce and sales during the harvest time. Despite the use of ICT, only market day remains the major point of sell for the young agripreneurs. The internet signal is very poor in Gbarpolu as one has to wait until late hours of 12 midnight to struggle to upload one post. With the fast developments happening in Liberia, the BBF project envisions to see better Networking and digital marketing strategies that will provide more avenues to the world of market and reach consumers in an effective way.
Creation of Employment
Come 2019 Cassava harvest, the Farwenta AF young farmers are positive that they will harvest more compared to other years. Strategies to get more manpower will be employed, therefore creating employment to other young people in the communities.
ActionAid Liberia (AAL) continues to offer technical support to the growth of each SSE. AAL is in talks with Mary’s Meal school feeding to supply super Gari that is made out of Cassava. Mary’s Meals have indicated interest in the partnership and the need to supply volume of supper Gari. In view of this partnership, AAL also envisions the expansion of farms, more Forums in all three counties the project works in. This will enable farms to reach the supply demand needed by Mary Meals. Additionally, Mary partnership has the potential to create employment by adding packaging, storage and marketing skills.