MONROVIA – On Thursday, November 17, 2022, Volunteers for Sustainable Development in Africa (VOSIEDA) signed a 20 million SEK grant agreement with the Swedish Embassy in Monrovia.
The amount, if converted at the current rate, is equivalent to 1.9 million United States Dollars.
The grant will support over 60 farming groups in rural Liberia, particularly Nimba County, through low-carbon / climate-smart agriculture initiatives.
It is expected to impact over four thousand two hundred (4,200) farming households or 21,000 farmers.
By FPA Staff Reporter
During the signing ceremony held at the Swedish Embassy, the Head of Development Cooperation, Mr. Johan Romare, said the grant application process has been extremely rigorous and competitive, consisting of several national and international organizations, UN agencies, etc. However, VOSIEDA has been selected because Sweden wants to see localized sustainable development and believes Liberians must be trusted to lead their development efforts.
Mr. Romare also said Liberia only develops if Liberians are supported to implement development initiatives by themselves. Moreover, VOSIEDA, although a Liberin organization, has shown to be a trustworthy and transparent organization according to various capacity assessments.
According to Jenkins Flahwor, program officer, Environment, Climate Change, and Natural resources at the Swedish Embassy, The Agreement will see VOSIEDA train farmers to adopt the climate-smart farming method and avoid shifting cultivation. Under the agreement, VOSIEDA will also, train farmers how to do the merging, how to do farming in one location, and irrigation to have crops grown organically as a means of preventing environmental pollution.
Jenkins Flashwor said: “Thirteen (13) months ago, we started developing plans to work on these issues, forestry, and agriculture-related issues and small skills agriculture development from a climate-smart perspective and working on agricultural sustainability.
“This agreement with a local NGO came out of a thinking of creating national ownership which has not been happening. This means in addition to working with National ownership, we want to work with local organizations.”
Mr. Flashwor also said VOSIEDA is the third local organization the Swedish embassy is partnering with. “From our background check and assessment, we are confident that they have the capacity to implement the project. The project will impact almost 1000 people.”
For his part, the Team Leader for VOSIEDA, Timothy Kortu, lauded the Swedish government for the opportunity and stated that he believes in evidence-based results. Mr. Kortu further said the three-year agreement with Sweden is a great test for his institution and the Liberian people. “We have to perform beyond expectation because an excellent performance by VOSIEDA will open doors of opportunities for other Liberian organizations to win the trust of bi-literal organizations such as Sweden”.
At the same time, the Chair of the Climate Smart Farmers Association of Nimba, Fredrick Gorkartee, applauded the Swedish government and people for their support. Mr. Gokartee said, in the past, international NGOs have often designed farming projects for farmers without involving the beneficiary. As a result, most farming projects have yielded no substantial results, thereby becoming wasted resources.
He averred that this is the first time for farmers to form part of the design of a major agriculture project in Liberia that is approved by major donors like Sweden to be implemented by Liberians directly. He said he believes most of the challenges that farmers face such as lack of improved irrigation systems, access to better farming equipment, seeds, etc. are now integrated into this project which they (farmers) have designed.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, Ms. Laura Golakeh, thanks the Embassy for entrusting their organization with the project, as she pledges VOSIEDA’s commitment to performing beyond doubt. Ms. Golakeh, who is also a gender expert, praised the embassy for prioritizing small-scale farmers, especially women farmers under the project.