Zwedru — In its quest to assist farmers with skills in Cocoa best management practice, Solidaridad has extended its Cocoa Value Chain Development Program (COVADEP) to farmers in Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties.
At the launch of the program in Zwerdru on Wednesday, the Country Representative of Solidaridad West Africa (Liberia), Michael S. Doe said through COVADEP, Liberia is tapping on the experience of Ghana and Ivory Coast to boost cocoa production.
The overall goal of the program, Mr. Doe said, is to reduce poverty through increased resilience and competitiveness of the Liberia Cocoa sector and improve cocoa farmers' livelihoods and food security.
He thanked Solidaridad West Africa's major partner- the European Union, the government and local authorities of the two counties for the support so far.
With support from the EU, Solidaridad, since 2018 has been implementing the Liberia Cocoa Development Project in Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.
COVADEP is a four-year program that started in mid-December 2019, with the EU contributing fourth-fifth of the US$5 million approved funding.
Speaking at the launch, EU Cooperation officer on Agriculture Development and Food Security, Geertrui Louwagie said the EU is investing in cocoa because it has the potential to be one of several success stories of Liberia's development.
"Rumor has it that Liberian cocoa is praised for its special flavor. Paying attention to this trait matters from farm to work, from the very cocoa seed to the point where I, as a keen chocolate consumer taste the richness of the cocoa flavor," she said.
Ms. Louwagie said the launch of COVADEP marked the extension of the EU funded cocoa interventions to Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties through Solidaridad Network West Africa following its selection after a competitive call for proposals.
To make this, work, she called for an integrated approach across the cocoa value chain. She lauded Solidaridad for aiming in such direction with COVADEP through the support to small holder cocoa producers to develop the knowledge and skills to improve both efficiency and quality of their production and give them guidance in accessing and managing financial resources.
Second, she mentioned that Solidaridad is partnering with the regulatory authority- LACRA to develop policies and strengthen capacity to perform its mandates of cocoa sector enabler.
Earlier in the overview, Solidaridad West Africa (Liberia) Program Manager, Marvin Samuel said COVADEP, within the framework of the Cocoa Centers for Development (CCDs), will facilitate the setting up of Farmers Field Schools (FFSs) in targeted communities in Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties as the core targeted areas.
The value addition component under COVADEP will also be extended to Lofa Bong and Nimba Counties, he added.
He noted that the FFS, as an experimental training methodology, is best suited for adult learners, adding that he approach would combine theory with field practice that allow farmers to observe the impact of specific agronomic practices on tree health and productivity.
Meanwhile, the Superintendent of Grand Gedeh, Kai Farley and his River Gee's counterpart, Philip Q. Nyenuh, in separate remarks, lauded Solidaridad and the EU for the program aimed at improving farmers' productivity and improving their living standards.
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