February 16, 2016
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has donated a 45kva generator worth US$15,000 to the Koinadugu Women Vegetable Farmers’ Cooperative to provide electricity to a refrigerator which preserves their commodities.
The generator was procured with financial support from the African Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) as part of a support for farmers to recover from the devastation caused by the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. The project is being implemented by FAO in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security.
The Koinadugu Women Vegetable Farmers’ Cooperative comprises 700 women from over 10 communities in the Koinadugu District who are engaged in vegetable farming as a major source of livelihood.
Handing over the generator kit, FAO Country Representative Dr. Gabriel Rugalema told the women farmers that the ASTF support was meant to wipe the bitter experiences caused by the Ebola disease epidemic and to enable the farmers revive their activities with increased productivity.
“We provided you this generator to enable you preserve your commodities until they are ready for market so that you can get better prizes from them, which can quickly elevate your status,” he told the women farmers.
Dr. Rugalema congratulated them for being resilient to continue their farming activities amidst the devastation caused by the epidemic. He admonished them to properly manage the generator so that it could last longer and serve the intended purpose.
Chairlady of the Koinadugu Women Vegetable Farmers’ Cooperative, Haja Sundu Marah, expressed gratitude to FAO and ASTF for the support, and stated that the generator was a realisation of a decade-long dream, adding that it is integral to completing the value chain in their business.
Madam Marah recounted that her membership had long been suffering from huge post-harvest loss and price volatility because of the lack of electricity to enable them preserve their goods. “Even the Ebola disease devastation would not have been huge if we had electricity to power our refrigerator until the movement restriction and quarantine measures were minimised,” she lamented.
She described the generator donation as very timely and crucial to their livelihood, especially at a time that they are gradually recovering from the Ebola epidemic devastation.
Speaker of Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom, Chief Tortor Kargbo, described the assistance as a reduction in a major burden on the entire men folk in the district, as that was a responsibility that they had always pondered but never fulfilled because of their lower financial status.
He described the women farmers as major engine in the development and sustainability of many households in the district.
He led the women farmers to dress the FAO representative in an honorary traditional regalia for being very supportive to them over the years.
The generator is to power a 40ft long refrigerator which has the capacity to load up to five hundred tons of vegetables.
Apart from donating the generator, FAO – with funds from ASTF – had provided cash transfer in the tune of US$29,000 to enable the women farmers procure quality vegetable seeds and replenish their depleted fund.
The ASTF Ebola recovery support has directly benefitted 2,900 farming households in Sierra Leone, mainly through agricultural inputs, replenishing depleted funds, rehabilitation of farming equipment, and refresher training on the use and management of agricultural machinery. It is expected that the support will have a multiplier effect on other communities.