Liberia: UN Women Train 50 Rural Women To Enhance Agro-food Trade, Access to Market
Monrovia – For Teta Lloyd, leader of rural women of Rivercess County, she is “so impressed” about learning new things, especially new things that would change her livelihood.
Report by Alline Dunbar, [email protected]
“I’m so impressed, too happy for the training because, all the things we are learning presently, we didn’t know them before; I know how to transform cassava chips into flour,” an excited Teta said in Monrovia at an ongoing training for rural female organized by UN Women.
The training began last Friday and ends on Wednesday, June 5. It is a UN Women flagship programme on Climate-smart Agriculture in partnership with FAO and WFP and Ministries of Agriculture and Gender, Children and Social.
Fifty women selected from Liberia’s 15 counties are being trained to produce value-added products from what they grow in their respective counties. They are also being taught how to use new farming technologies.
The project aims to support cooperation among rural women farming groups and cooperatives in strategic agro-food value chains, building upon existing and past national initiatives from 2013 to present.
Before coming to the training, Teta said she used an old fashion method of cassava farming.
“We used to take the cassava, chipped it and put it in the sun, but this time we will not put it in the sun again because we have been given a dryer,” she said, expressing joy about the new equipment given her by UN Women.
Teta says when their cassava is not ready for harvesting, women in her county relied on the sea for survival by buying fish from fishermen to sell.
Musu Barto is the president of rural women in Bong county, like Teta, she is also upbeat about the training.
She’s optimistic that skills acquired will be shared with several other women back in Bong County.
“I feel so fine because this training is to give knowledge to us to carry back to our people. Even though we had idea on some but those things we didn’t know about, we are learning it to carry back in the county to the other women to empower us and the community at large,” explains Musu.
Esther Clarke, leader of rural women in Margibi County, could also not hold back her praises for the organizers of the training.
“Even if I had ten thousand tons, I could use all to express the importance and goodness of this training because it is the first of its kind. We have had many trainings, but this one is taking us from ‘mat to mattress’ because it will connect us to the World in business and not just Liberia,” she said.
The 50 participants have been placed in groups and each group is equipped with dryer, mechanic oil presser, pasta (spaghetti) making machine to enhance their skills.
Vernee Twehway, the rural women leader of Grand Bassa County, assured that when she returns home, she’ll engage other rural women to ensure they benefit from the new knowledge she’s acquiring.
“We are going to call a meeting, calling women together and the same training we went through here, we will train them as well and teach them how to add value to the crops,” Vernee said.
Meanwhile, Ma Kebbeh Monger, who is the national leader of all rural women organizations across the country, says to coordinate all the local chapters requires regular periodic visits to the counties.
She added that sometimes the rural women leaders from the different counties come to Monrovia to meet and plan their activities for the year.
She also hailed UN Women for its support and called on the government to commit to supporting their organization.
“Agriculture requires finance and the government needs to help the people. If the NGOs are helping, let the government be able to put their hand there too,” Ma Kebbeh told FrontPageAfrica.
She highlighted deplorable road condition as one of the challenges rural women are faced with, adding that the situation causes many farmers’ produce to perish before reaching the market.
“I remember one time on the highway, I saw plantain rotten and stuck up in the mud and even in Lofa County the people crops got rotten because the truck that was carrying their market got stuck up in the mud,” she recalled.