Liberia: USAID/FIFES Conclude Agroforestry-Based Market Linkages Roundtable
Monrovia — Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability (FIFES), a five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded activity, and the Community Forest Management Body (CFMB) Hub in northern Nimba County recently concluded a roundtable for value chain actors around the local community forest.
In support of USAID/Liberia’s Country Development Corporation Strategy, FIFES’s overall goal is to help rural farmers and forest-dependent communities develop forest-based enterprises in ways that reduce threats to biodiversity and combat deforestation, forest degradation, and biodiversity loss.
To accomplish this goal, FIFES aims to increase inclusive, sustainable economic opportunities for local community forest stakeholders, while building the capacity of local institutions to effectively implement national policies, promote better forest management, and integrate gender equity and youth opportunities within the 11 community forests in Nimba and Grand Bassa counties. FIFES supports four community forest governance and management structures in Northern Nimba County (Sanniquellie area), five in Southern Nimba County (Tappita area), and two in Grand Bassa County (Buchanan area), for a total of 11 community forests.
The roundtable event brought together value chain stakeholders, including buyers, producers, FIFES-supported enterprise groups, input service providers, the Zor CFMB, and others. These stakeholders discussed ways to foster market linkages for forest-based enterprises, especially those trading cocoa and non-timber forest products, which aimed at enhancing value-addition opportunities throughout value chains.
During the roundtable, the group developed a value chain map showing relationships and linkages, demonstrating the importance of market actors working together to address issues of commodity volume, quality, on-time delivery, and pricing. Four enterprise groups, including Gayekwadou, Kwakerseh, Zodoa and Doudala, located on the periphery of the Zor community forest, benefited from this work.
According to FIFES Deputy Chief of Party Borwen Sayon, the exercise is being carried out to ensure processes are strengthened and CFMBs can build their market information acquisition and analysis and commercial linkage development skills.
While addressing roundtable participants, Sayon said, “You are here today because we want to equip you with the necessary skills and information to facilitate market relationships, which are linkages between producer and buyers, as part of the [value chain] capacity building process.” He emphasized that this included “creating a platform for [enterprise groups] and buyers to agree in principle on sales terms and conditions related to product volume, quality, delivery dates, and prices, which will eventually lead to the signing of a pre-harvesting contract.”
With a signed preharvest contract in place local producers can look forward to increased sales and improved incomes. The next step is for market actors is to focus on realizing the agreed upon commercial arrangements and facilitating the successful movement of farm and forest products to the market.