Working for a Bright Future for Cocoa Farmers in Liberia
SAMCERT is working with IFAD‘s Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Support Project (STCRSP), a project focused on increasing access to finance, inputs, technologies and markets for smallholder tree crop farmers in Liberia’s Lofa County. The target population includes poor rural smallholders cultivating less than 2 ha of land and who rely on subsistence farming, as well as households headed by women, young people, and war-wounded and disabled people.
SAMCERT conducted a Scoping Mission to Lofa County in February 2012, with an eye to determining how best to support the cocoa cooperatives participating in the STCRSP project, notably with regard to improving access to markets for the certified cocoa.
Thereafter, an introductory training workshop focusing on the main sustainable certification schemes was organised in August 2013, with the support of STCRSP and the Liberia Agriculture and Asset Development Company (LAADCO), a private sector cocoa and coffee exporter and STCRSP implementing partner. Participants included cocoa cooperative members, and representatives of the Cooperative Development Agency of Liberia, the Ministry of Agriculture, and GIZ.
The training came on the heels of a STCRSP study visit to cocoa producers in Sao Tomé e Principe, and covered the essentials of Rain Forest Alliance, Organic, Fairtrade and UTZ Certified certification standards. In addition, the participants were provided with a thorough training session on cocoa quality production, processing, storage and marketing.
At present LAADCO is providing technical and extension services to STCRSP, and concrete co-financing, in terms of human resources -by building district teams of extension workers. The company is also providing vehicles to support the cooperatives’ mobility and much-needed pre-financing for working capital, and cocoa tree rehabilitation support.
For its part, SAMCERT’s is seeking to assist the STCRSP cooperatives with their efforts to certify their cocoa, and also by making contact with interested commercial partners. The cocoa sector in Liberia has a great deal of potential. IFAD is investing in what will hopefully be a very bright future for the cocoa farmers of Liberia.
For more information, please contact David Cuming