MONROVIA — The production of cocoa is of significant economic importance both for producing and consuming countries. It generates export revenues, and income, and creates employment for local communities but is also used as a forest cover, connecting patches and buffers in degraded areas. In an effort to empower farmers at forest-edge, the Society for the Conservation of Nature (SCNL), under the Liberia Forest Sector Project, (LFSP), funded by the Government of Norway, through the World Bank and the Forestry Development Authority, (FDA), has trained over 100 farmers in Cocoa Intensification and Integrated Crop Pest Management (ICMP) known as the Cocoa Farmers Field School (FFS).
The training which is the first of its kind under the project, took place in six (6) project communities (Marbon, Kawelahum, Jenemana, Zuie, Ganglota, and Telemu) located in three Counties (Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, and Lofa). The Cocoa FFS graduation took place from April 6-10, 2023 with a total of 136 farmers who were certificated…
Matthew Williams, SCNL Livelihood Officer at the graduation ceremony, thanked the farmers for their participation in the Cocoa FFS training and advised them to engage in more forest-friendly cocoa production mainly focusing on degraded areas in the landscape. The graduation ceremonies were comprised of singing, remarks, special statements, and acknowledgment from the graduates. Town chiefs, general town chiefs, elders, youth, chair ladies, etc., appreciated SCNL, the Government of Norway, the World Bank, and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), for the seven months of intensive training in cocoa production.
Bob M. Jallah, Town Chief, Marbon, and the General Town Chief, Mr. Boimah Quoi, also expressed joy for the opportunity rendered to the farmers. They said it was a great day in Marbon to see for the first-time farmers being trained in cocoa production as a livelihood for the people, not only in Grand Cape Mount County but across Liberia.
“Since birth, this is the first time to see such an opportunity in this part of Liberia. To see our brothers and sisters graduating today in Cocoa FFS is so wonderful. Families will benefit from the outcome of the training, including future generations. Thanks to SCNL and its partners for this,” Jallah said. The town chief then asked that the program continues so other farmers who weren’t part of the first training can have similar opportunities to know about cocoa production and best practices.
Quoi promised to keep working along with the farmers to ensure the project objectives are met. “As the general town chief, I’ll make sure I work with the farmers, to monitor the cocoa farms after the planting process. Let’s work hard for the growth of the county, the government can’t do everything”. `
SCNL Program Assistant, Queenette P. Johnson, making a special statement on behalf of SCNL Executive Director, Mr. Michael F. Garbo, congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to use their knowledge by engaging in climate-smart agriculture of cocoa production while protecting the forest.
“You have to start putting what you have learned about coco production into practice. This Cocoa FFS Program is about livelihood, under the LFSP, the Cocoa FFS is a part of many programs being implemented to empower the farmers around forest-edge communities. Besides the Cocoa FFS, the Honeybee Keeping Project, and the construction of handpumps, bridges, and renovation of schools and clinics are key programs to help the communities and people. Thanks to all the farmers who went through the training; it wasn’t easy, but you stood strong, and today, you are graduating. On behalf of the Program Coordinator, Mr. Richard Hoff II, and the Executive Director, SCNL, Mr. Michael F. Garbo, thank you”.
Implementing partner, Vainga Agriculture Development and Management Consultancy, (VADEMCO) National Program Manager, G. Ambullai Perry, on behalf of VADEMCO, extended thanks and appreciation to SCNL, partners, and farmers for the successful completion of the training. “Certificates will be provided to each of you to show your participation in the training. Your benefit isn’t about the certificates you have received, it is about what you’ll use the knowledge for. Serve as ambassadors in your towns and communities by empowering other farmers who didn’t have the opportunity to participate in the Cocoa FFS training.”
Rita Cooper and David Dennis are Farmers and were among the graduates. They expressed heartfelt gratitude to SCNL and its partners for the Cocoa FFS Program. “I give God the glory for everything. I tell the Government of Norway, the World Bank, the FDA and SCNL, the facilitators, and the trainers thank you for ensuring the Cocoa FFS Program was successful”.
David, in the next few years, promise to use his new knowledge to produce more cocoa. “What we have learned, in the next few years when SCNL and partners visit Grand Cape Mount County, they will see my cocoa farms everywhere, and making lots of profits,” he said.