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105 Traditional Cocoa Farmers Undergo Training in Grand Cape Mount

Traditional cocoa growers from more than five communities in Porkpa District, Grand Cape Mount County, have completed a ten-month intensive training on how to maintain and manage their cocoa farms.

The intent is to build the skills of cocoa farmers in the county aimed at increasing production.

The training was offered to over 100-local small scale cocoa farmers by an agribusiness consultant firm, Vainga Agriculture Development and Management Consultancy (VADEMCO).

 They were trained in basic modern cocoa production, pest management and control, as well as, cocoa intensification, among others.

The training was a joint effort by VADEMCO and Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL), with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Project.

The two organizations are aiming to empower farmers in forest-edged communities, mainly along the Gola Forest National Park (GFNP) in Grand Cape Mount County to revamp their existing cocoa farms while at the same time providing them special variety of cocoa seedlings.

At the end of the training, VADEMCO Chief Executive officer, Suliman Kamara, emphasized the need for government to invest more in the Cocoa sector because according to him it will enable Liberia compete with other countries in the Region” he said.

“It is so sickening that we have many natural resources in this country but we still suffer for food. Our government needs to do more because cocoa is so viable in the world,” he adds.

“If the farmers don’t have nothing we will be unable to offer them training, we will continue to fight for farmers”, Mr. Kamara emphasized.

He disclosed that currently, Liberia only has 20 cocoa exporters compare to other countries in the region. Mr. Kamara said this number can only increase if government invests in the sector and have an empowerment scheme for small holder cocoa farmers.

He believes Liberians’ mentality toward agriculture has led to Liberia’s small holder farmers to only concentrate farming for they and their family (subsistence framing) can eat or sell on small scale.

Beneficiaries of the training were encouraged to put into practice the skills they have acquired for the benefit of their communities and the country. Certificates of achievement were awarded to beneficiaries of the training.

In other remarks, Society for Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) Communications officer Mark Dahn lauded the farmers for the skills acquired, and urged them to remain focus by increasing their production.

He pledged SCNL’s commitment to continue to work alongside cocoa farmers by building their capacity to increase production in Liberia through rainforest friendly cocoa planting technique which is widely practiced across West Africa.

For his part, the head of the cocoa farmer field school graduating class, Jerry Kerkulah thanked VADEMCO and SCNL for the opportunity given them to acquire such a unique knowledge.

 “We have organized ourselves into corporative called “Kwa Peta”. People are buying shares in this corporative. We have over 150 registered members with 64 shareholders, our leadership structures is already in place,” Jerry told the audience.

About 82 males and 23 females were certificated after successfully completing the 10-month cocoa training from May 3, 2019 to January 2020.

Why Liberia still behind in cocoa production?

Study shows that poor soil fertility management, aging tree stocks, and improper use of chemicals are major threats to Liberian cocoa farms.  Cocoa yields in Liberia stands at 200 kg per hectare about 30% of that of neighboring countries.

In 2016, the country produced about 9,603 metric tons of cocoa beans.

Ivory Coast remains the world’s leading supplier of cocoa accounting for about  30 percent of the world’s total cocoa, leading the rest of the world by over half a million metric tons with a total crop of 1,448,992 tones.

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SCNL, VADEMCO Sign Sustainable Livelihood Sub-Grant For Gola Forest National Park Project

The Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) and the Vainga Agriculture Development and Management Consultancy (VADEMCO INC), have signed a memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the implementation of the agriculture component of the West Africa Biodiversity Climate Change (WABiCC) project.

Under the MOU, VADEMCO was sub-contracted by SCNL to carryout sustainable livelihood activities such as peanut and cocoa planting.

Speaking at the signing ceremony Wednesday at SCNL office in Congo Town, both SCNL Executive Director Michael Garbo and VADEMCO Chief Executive Officer, Saulima Kamara expressed willingness to working together for the successful implementation of the project.

Garbo and Kamara stated that both organizations were upbeat in making sure that the project meets its desire goal.

The cocoa and peanut production is part a 28-month WABiCC project titled “Community Landscape Management to Reduce Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss in the Gola Transboundary Forest Landscape”.

The project is to conserve the unique biodiversity of the transboundary peace park for Sierra Leone and Liberia and to sustainably manage the remaining natural forests surrounding the park. VADEMCO is also involved with providing technical service to smallholder farmers in remotest geographical locations of the country. Over the years, the company has worked in Gbarpolu, Bomi, Bong, Lofa and Grand Cape Mount counties. VADEMCO technical support to farmers includes, but not limited to Farmers training (Farmers Field School module).

It also does routine farm supervision including collection of geo-spatial data (waypoints and tracks) to analyze farm-level yield, Farmers Organization formation. The organization has also experience in agriculture product handling, processing and marketing (solar dryers, fermentation etc…) amongst others.

The sub-contractual agreement is in a tone of over US$44,000.00 (forty-four thousand united states dollars) for two years.

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News Trainning

VADEMCO, Partners train 77 in cocoa farming

As part of efforts to promote good cocoa farming practice around the Gola Forest National Park (GFNP), in Grand Cape Mount County, the Vainga Agriculture Development Management and Consultancy (VADEMCO) has built the capacities of 77- local farmers in cocoa production, management and disease control.

The 77-local farmers were trained and given certificates by VADEMCO in collaboration with the Society for the Conservation of Nature(SCNL) with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change project(WABICC).

The project seeks to promote good farming practice while at the same time enhance Sustainable Forest Management in the corridor of the Liberian forest.

The training was part of livelihood activity component of the WABICC/USAID funded program currently being implemented by the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL).

The training co-named “Farmer Field School” was directly intended to provide more practical knowledge to the beneficiaries to enable them properly management their own cocoa farm.

 VADEMCO Chief Executive Officer and senior consultant Mr. Suliman V. Kamara told the gathering that his dream is to train more Liberian cocoa producers to put the country on the map by competing with other producing countries like neighboring Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, as well as Ghana.

He reminded the people of Grand Cape Mount County that cocoa is one of the best cash crops in the world and urged them to take what they  have learned seriously for their own benefits and the benefit of the Country.

 Mr. Kamara urged the graduates to now adjust to the new method and properly utilize skills acquired from his organization to improve their living condition and promote Liberia’s cocoa sector.

Also speaking WABICC project Manager Anne Gardner and SCNL Program Manager Michael E. Taire, in separate remarks, lauded the graduates for upholding the doctrine of Sustainable Forest management by responsibly and wisely using their forest.

Madam Gardner and Mr. Taire noted that the current action by the graduates to serve as forest ambassadors would not only today’s generation, but generations to come.

 They argued that maintaining the forest would bring huge benefits to their communities citing the FFS training as one of the benefits for them.

Madam Gardner and Mr. Taire  have urged female participants from the training to be focus and put what they have learned into practice.

They explained that female can actively contribute towards the development of their community if they are focused and willing to learn.

“Gola Forest is not only important to the people of Sokpo clan the but to rest of the world. The forest makes us feel free and good”, said Anne.

In a related development, Porkpa District paramount chief madam Jaymiatu K. Watson admonished her kinsman to  work with dedication and passion in maintaining the uniqueness of their community forest.

Madam Watson added that at the beginning the people of Sokpo clan did not know that forest has many benefits until when VADEMCO and partners begin to initiate forest related programs in building their capacity in smart agriculture program.

The program took into consideration the issue of gender sensitivity in which dozens of women was trained alongside with their male counterparts.

Since 1999,VADEMCO  have provided training to smallholder commercial enterprise farmers in sustainable and environmental friendly manner.

The organization uses Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) for cocoa production and post-harvest and quality management practices (techniques).