In an effort to add value to local Liberian produced cocoa beans to match high quality cocoa on the world market, the Vainga Agriculture Development and Management Consultancy(VADEMCO) and the Atlantic Cocoa have been inspecting some newly rehabilitated cocoa old folks farms in rural Liberia particularly in Kpaii District, Bong County.
According to statistics, cocoa bean produced and processed by Liberians are of high quality, but their efforts have not been recognized due to some unscrupulous foreign exporters who are mixing the Liberian quality cocoa with substandard cocoa beans from neighboring Countries in order to increase the volume of the consignment of shipment while bye de-valuating the Liberian produce for export to the world market.
Recently, VADEMCO and Atlantic Cocoa made a field visit to Meleen-ta , Kpaii District, Bong County and met Old Folks Cocoa farmers who farmers just completed intensive rehabilitation and the construction of farm level solar dryer and fermentation boxes.
VADEMCO Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Suliman V. Kamara speaking during the meeting said his organization liaising with old folk's cocoa farmers to produce high quality of cocoa beans in order to change the paradigm of 'negativity' that Liberia does not meet the quality standard of cocoa beans for the World Market.
Mr. Kamara further stated that Since 2008 cocoa farmers in most Counties (6) in Liberia have had intensive post-harvest and quality appreciation trainings by International Organizations Such as ACD/VOCA- USDA Funded, STCP/IITA- USAID, IFAD, World Bank, GTZ etc.
In addition, Solidaridad WEST Africa-Liberia funded by EU has conducted training for thousands of smallholder cocoa farmers through its Technical Services providers (TSP) partners under cocoa rehabilitation and intensification Programme (CORIP).
These trainings, the VADEMCO boss added that are all gear towards improving the quality of cocoa beans to erase the notion that no good cocoa comes from Liberia to meet world market standard.
VADEMCO with over 20 years of experience in the agricultural sector of Liberia has also trained old folks cocoa farmers in Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties with Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) which they are applying and the skills developed over the years.
Most of these farmers are reluctant to go through the post-harvesting process since they are not getting the right value for their cocoa beans and there is no farm-gate price differential in appreciation for the production of high quality beans.
To put smile on the faces of cocoa farmers, VADEMCO piloted Old Folk farmer programme in 2019/2020 cocoa season and linking their products with Atlantic cocoa that provided better farm-gate price for them.
The program targets at least 50 Old Folk Cocoa Farms to be rehabilitated in 2020 of the average 75 acres with estimated production of 12 tons of cocoa beans but due to COVID-19 outbreak and lack of necessary funding, only rehabilitated 20 Old Folks Farms in Both Bong and Lofa Counties, VADEMCO said.
About 15 'Cocoa Development Brigades' comprising of youth have been organized by VADEMCO in each Old Folk farms communities to carry out the rehabilitation of these farms through youth empowerment program.
The young people who are caring out the rehabilitation activities of the old folk's farms were provided rehabilitation and Post-harvest trainings and provided the necessary AG-Tools in order to carry out their rehabilitation activities.
Meanwhile, following the recent tour by both CEOs of VADEMCO and Atlantic Cocoa, Suliman Kamara and Clemenceau Urey respectively agreed that VADEMCO serve as aggregator/ Cocoa Buying Agent to Atlantic Cocoa management during this 2020/2021 cocoa season. Contributed by: By Mark Dahn
Alphonso been in the profession for over twenty years. He has worked for many international media outlets including: West Africa Magazine, Africa Week Magazine, African Observer and did occasional reporting for CNN, BBC World Service, Sunday Times, NPR, Radio Deutchewells, Radio Netherlands. He is the current correspondent for Reuters. Mr. Toweh holds first MA with honors in International Relations and a candidate for second master in International Peace studies and Conflict Resolution.