FED Activity Highlights: December 2015

Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Activity Highlights for December 1st-15th, 2015

  • On December the 1st the President of Liberia signed into law Executive Order #73 drafted and supported by USAID FED. This Executive Order supports the temporary removal of customs tariffs on essential inputs for agricultural value-chains. It builds on the successful implementation of Executive Orders #30 & #64 which removed import tariffs on 24 categories of inputs used by domestic agriculture. This effort was supported by USAID FED after the working group decided that Executive Order #64 was not adequate in its implementation to significantly help small holder farmers import agricultural inputs and needed to be revamped. For Executive Order # 64 to be effective, a greater focus on agriculture and not on encouraging logging activities was considered necessary. USAID FED subsequently produced a more precise executive order that identifies specific tariffs to be removed according to the ECOWAS harmonized tax code.
  • On Tuesday, December 1, 2015 USAID FED Science Laboratory trainer consultant, Mr. Emmnauel Lincoln began a four-day training at Booker Washington Institute and Grand Bassa Community College. Participants of the training comprised one senior lab technician, one soil science instructor and an assistant lab technician at each of the institutions. The objective of the training is to work with the soil science lab technicians at the four CoEs (BWI, GBCC, LCCC and NCCC) to help strengthen their capacity in both laboratory and field settings.
  • On November 8 – 9, 2015, a two day Goat Management Training was conducted by USAID FED Goat Specialist Morris Karnuah at LCCC Goat Shelter/Demonstration site. The training strengthened the capacity of LCCC farm technicians to administer basis treatment/first aid to 19 goats in the Shelter. The training targeted four main participants: farm/goat technicians, the farm manager and animal science instructors.
  • Several of youth groups harvested African eggplant and cabbage during the reporting period. Koon Koon harvested 130kg of African Eggplant. Because of the hot sun, the crops are declining. Gbajina Town harvested 260kg of African Eggplant and also harvested 90kg of cabbage due to the hot sun there was a low harvest. Paul Napah harvested 15kg of cabbage and also harvested a 22.5kg half bag of eggplant. Mamia Morris harvested 15kg of eggplant and also harvested 10kg of pepper.
  • USAID FED and the Central Agricultural Institute signed a MoU for the establishment of a Nucleus Breeding Herd at CARI, Bong County. Under the MoU, USAID FED agrees to the following:
    • Assess the livestock quarantine facility to determine the conversion specifications, material and civil works requirements.
    • Hire a firm to undertake conversion works at the facility, to include procurement of required construction materials as per specifications of the assessment.
    • Provide CARI with technical assistance to develop a nucleus breeding herd manual and to train CARI staff assigned to the facility on the nucleus breeding herd management.

FED Activity Highlights: February 2015

Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Activity Highlights for February 1st-15th, 2015

  • Afriland Bank undertook a field assessment of Selma Development Corporation’s operations and investments in order to determine whether this aggregator could qualify for a loan from the bank. USAID FED and IBEX assisted Mr. Selma to prepare and submit the loan application to the bank during early February. The outcome of the assessment is expected during the third week of February. A positive evaluation will enable Mr. Selma to access US$100,000 as trade credit to be used for purchasing of paddy rice from farmers in Lofa County.
  • USAID FED partnered with AVRDC -The World Vegetable Center to conduct field trials of vegetable varieties sourced from AVRDC’s research centre in Mali in order to assess for adaptability to local conditions. Seed varieties that grow favorably will be introduced to farmers through seed kits for planting in vegetable gardens in order to address household malnutrition and supplement incomes. AVRDC will be implementing the Deploying Vegetable Seed Kits to Tackle Malnutrition in Liberia project through funding from the Bureau of Food Security in Nimba and Bong Counties. AVRDC has provided USAID FED with 3.2Kg of seeds of five vegetable varieties for these field trials.
  • A public private partnership with the Royal Hotel in Monrovia was developed to establish a market link for high value vegetables produced by USAID FED assisted farmers. The Royal Hotel has made an initial order of cabbage after they received samples harvested from the rain shelter production site in Careysburg, Montserrado County.
  • ACDI/VOCA’s Farmer to Farmer Program deployed a goat breeding specialist, Dr. Daniel Miller, to Liberia to provide technical assistance to USAID FED goat farmers on community goat breeding. Dr. Miller commenced training of goat farmers in Nimba County. It is expected that the Volunteer Specialist will assist CARI to develop a Nucleus Breeding Herd Management manual. This manual will be used to technically manage the Nucleus Breeding Herd facility that is anticipated to be established in CARI by April 2016.
  • LSU’s Dr. Donald Breazeale consulted with community colleges in Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bassa counties, as well as Booker Washington Institute, on development of business plans for the Centers of Excellence (COEs). Cost benefit analyses were in process for the 12 crops selected for focus: watermelon, hot pepper, cabbage, eggplants, sweet pepper, collard green, carrot, jute, potato green, tomato, radish and peanuts. Dr. Breazeale’s work will conclude in late-February with recommendations for the way forward on further development of these COEs.

FED Activity Highlights: June 2015

Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Activity Highlights for June 1st-15th, 2015

  • On June 3, 2015, USAID FED hosted a Press Round Table at the Mamba Point Hotel to brief members of the media on current USAID FED activities and accomplishments to date. Some of the media organizations that were represented were the following: Daily Observer, Analyst, Success Forum, Truth FM, Heritage and many more. USAID FED will continue to work with the media over the coming year to gain more exposure and highlight its achievements to the local press. As a result of this round table the following media organizations published an article or aired a story about the round table on the radio: Daily Observer, GNN-Liberia, Liberia News Agency, Success Forum, Women Voices, Heritage, Public Agenda, Focus, UNMIL Radio, Truth FM and United Methodist Radio
  • USAID FED participated in a validation workshop for a first draft of the Liberia National Livestock Policy and Action Plan on June 2 held at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). The basis of the workshop was a report prepared by USAID FED in 2013 subtitled “Liberia Livestock Policy” and a second report prepared by BRAC International in 2014 to review and finalize the “National Livestock Policy”. Stakeholders made various comments. The comments made will be incorporated in a follow-up draft.
  • USAID FED organized the power tiller operations and maintenance Training of Trainers (ToT) for agro technicians and instructors of the Centers of Excellence (CoE). This five-day ToT commenced on June 3, 2015 at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI). USAID FED is providing the CoE’s with power tillers for use in their agricultural enterprises, demonstration farms as well as to provide fee-based mechanized services to farms surrounding the institution.
  • A two-day training with 48 participants (24 lead farmers and 24 from the Monrovia vegetable traders association) was conducted in Montserrado at the Red Light market on principal causes of post-harvest losses and the preventive measures to reduce these losses.
  • On June 9-11, 2015, USAID FED conducted training for USAID FED Extension Officers and LNGO Extension Technicians on irrigated rice, rice fallow rice, rice fallow pulse and ratooning on demonstration sites in Gbarnga, Bong County. A total of 28 participants (26 male and 2 female) were trained.
  • A meeting of the Technical Agriculture Core Team (TACT), a technical working group for the extension curriculum and materials development, took place on June 5th at the MoA where the team was briefed on the extension materials being developed by USAID FED as well as the validation of the three value chains’ field base extension curricula-rice, cassava and vegetables.

FED Activity Highlights: August 2015

Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Activity Highlights for August 1st-15th, 2015

  • On August 4th & 5th 2015, USAID FED supported Zeelie Farmers Association in Lofa County sold a total of 5,879.72kg of paddy rice to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA).
  • On August 11, 2015, a total of 57 (38 male, 19 female ) Lead Farmers across the vegetable, goat and cassava value chains from the clusters in Gbehlay-Geh, Sanniquellie-Mah and BainGar district, Nimba County, were trained in nutrition based lesson plans. During the training, 1,170 copies of the nutrition flyer showing benefits of the three recommended food groups were distributed to the Lead Farmers for dissemination to group members. After the training, the Lead Farmers are expected conduct monthly interactive nutrition education sessions centered on nutrition lesson plans with their respective farming groups.
  • On August 13, 2015, USAID FED’s Behavior Change Communication Specialist presented to USAID Liberia, LAUNCH, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHWS) and local LNGO, Breastfeeding Advocacy Group (BAG-LNGO) findings from the barrier analysis survey conducted. Recommendation was made by the specialist on specific activities for implementation in Nimba County on integrating nutrition into agriculture activities to improve dietary diversity.
  • USAID FED collected 20 soil samples from a vegetable site in Montserrado and will be analyzed by the contracted technicians working on the soil mapping activity. This pilot program will roll out to the USAID Centers of Excellence (CoE) when the soil laboratories are operational in September 2015. An Agro Dealer in Montserrado will be identified and linked to the vegetable farming group when the soil analysis results are available.
  • On August 4, USAID FED’s International Seed Policy Consultant submitted the final draft document of the Liberia Seed Regulation to USAID FED. This was subsequently submitted to the Office of the Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture for review and approval.
  • USAID FED and the Ministry of Agriculture have agreed on the hiring of Alan Schroeder as the International Pesticide Policy Expert who will provide the support to the drafting of the Liberia Pesticide Regulation, which is the “domesticated” version of the ECOWAS Pesticide Regulation gazette in September 2014.
  • USAID FED has commenced discussion with the West Africa Fertilizer Program (WAFP) to collaborate on the “domestication” of the ECOWAS Fertilizer Regulation and the development of the fertilizer industry in Liberia. A MoU has been drafted by WAFP and is currently being reviewed by USAID FED.

FED Activity Highlights: July 2016

Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Activity Highlights for July 1st-15th, 2016

  • As part of an exit strategy to empower the four FED-supported Centers of Excellence (COEs), FED this month contracted a local consultant, Thomas Kanneh, to conduct grants development training. The consultant is working with administrative staff and faculty of the COEs, to include the community colleges in Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties, and the Booker Washington Institute in Margibi County. The sessions run from July 12 through August 15. At the same time, a FED Soil Consultant, Emmanuel Lincoln, has been mobilized to the field to conduct refresher sessions on soil testing for laboratory technicians at the CoEs. Those sessions also run from July 12 to August 15.
  • Textbooks and reference materials for the four CoEs are scheduled to arrive in Monrovia by mid-July. FED began the pre-arrival customs clearance process in the beginning of the month to speed up the books’ release from Liberian customs upon arrival. FED is providing textbooks and other reference materials to support faculty and students of the National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) program. In total, 144 books will be distributed to the CoEs’ newly renovated libraries. The collection includes 12 textbook titles and eight reference guides.
  • Top Consultants, Inc. (TCI), a FED-contracted consulting firm providing technical assistance to FED-supported business service providers (BSPs), successfully concluded the Enterprise Service Centers’ (ESCs) awareness campaign on July 1. The campaign was part of TCi’s efforts to build the capacity of the BSPs as they transition to fee-based ESCs. The awareness campaign included radio jingles, banners, t-shirts, appearances on radio talk shows, as well as traveling road shows to communities, towns and districts of Margibi, Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties. FED has extended TCI’s contract to August 5 to allow time for the consultant write a comprehensive report on its deliverables. The five ESCs will be ready for graduation to full-fledged Enterprise Service Centers by the end of August based on previously-established criteria.
  • FED consultant Dr. Roland Massaquoi continues his work this reporting period drafting acts for three ECOWAS policies (seeds, fertilizer, agro-chemicals) and the 10 % Cassava Composite Flour Policy. The drafts will incorporate comments and suggestions from three sessions of technical working groups, which included stakeholders from the private and public sectors. Once completed, the document will be presented to FED for review before it is submitted to the working groups for approval and then to the Ministries of Commerce and Agriculture. The ECOWAS draft acts on pesticides, seeds and fertilizer are currently being reviewed by the Law Reform Commission.
  • On July 5, the Universal Empowerment Missions (UEM), a local institution hired by FED to provide technical support to 350 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), presented its final report on the full accomplishments and deliverables of the groups. In June, EDUCARE completed its work with another 373 VSLAs. Because these two NGOs’ contracts have ended, FED renewed contracts with independent consultants to continue monitoring the 723 FED-supported VSLA activities from July 1 to August 31.
  • Tallobenku Engineering completed conversion work of the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) goat quarantine facility in Bong County to convert it into a nucleus breeding herd center during this reporting period. This facility now has ideal space for goat husbandry, including 16 individual quadrants for isolation and an animal crush for examination. FED anticipated that CARI will receive and sign the handover documents in mid-July and fully assume responsibility for the center’s operations, which will include sourcing and breeding 100 animals (20 bucks and 80 does) of superior genetic stock.
  • FED-contracted BRAC Liberia, an international NGO, this week sent blood samples from 200 vaccinated goats and sheep to the Ministry of Agriculture for testing. The blood samples are from animals who were vaccinated under a FED-supported campaign against the Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) disease. The campaign ended in June with more than 103,000 animals vaccinated. The blood samples are being tested for PPR antibodies. FED anticipates test results at the end of this reporting month.
  • FED’s M&E team continued collecting data to complete the smallholder farmer survey by the end of this month. The survey began on June 20 and, by mid-July, enumerators had already interviewed more than 1,330 farmers (1,070 upcountry in rice, vegetables and goat production, and another 262 individual vegetable farmers in Margibi and Montserrado). Data on the cassava value chain will be collected in late-August in order to accommodate the agricultural cycle for that crop. The smallholder survey is collecting FY2016 data on the indicators comprising the gross margin formula. A subsequent enterprise survey will be conducted in August and September to capture FY2016 data on the remaining FtF indicators which FED has been assigned by USAID.
  • Planning has been initiated for an Agribusiness Expo to be conducted in September 2016 that will highlight development of agribusiness activity under FED. Planning is being conducted in collaboration with the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Moses Zinnah. The focus of the expo will be on value chain development over the past five years and the strengthening of the agribusinesses serving it. It will be an opportunity for businesses serving the agricultural sector to showcase their products and services to potential customers. The target audience for the Expo includes farmers, agribusinesses, the diplomatic community, GoL officials, LNGOs, and other interested parties. Space has been reserved at Monrovia City Hall for this event, scheduled for September 13-14.

FED Activity Highlights: April 2016

Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Activity Highlights for April 1st-15th, 2016

  • FED Begins Passing Torch to LADA: Key FED staff met with the start-up team for USAID’s Liberian Agribusiness and Development Activity (LADA) project. LADA is focused on post-harvest and agribusiness activities, including input-dealer networks, processing, storage, transport, market-linkages, etc. FED will be transitioning many of its programmatic interventions to the new project to ensure sustainability after the closedown of FED. The close coordination with the new project will continue this month and throughout the end of the project.
  • High-Value Vegetable Farmers Make Important Market Linkages: Market linkages between FED-supported farm clusters and several high-end hotels and restaurants in Monrovia continued to grow this month with more contracts and an increased number of buyers. During the second quarter of FY12, FED facilitated a contract between Monrovia’s premier Royal Grand Hotel, a property which includes three in-house restaurants, for weekly purchases of high-value vegetables, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, peppers, lettuce, and cabbage. In the beginning of April, FED facilitated the market linkage of Mount Barclay (Montserrado) vegetables farmers with Golden Beach restaurant in Monrovia, another institutional buyer. FED is now working to establish market linkages with supermarkets and other high-end Monrovia hotels such as Mamba Point and The Cape Hotel before project closedown. These market linkages are important because they provide sustainable income for the vegetable-production clusters, whose production and sales continue to improve. FED is also preparing a shipment of two, 5 kilogram samples of okra to a prospective buyer in France. This buyer has also indicated an interest in red chili peppers.
  • ESCs Start Up: FED this month launched its final, three-month campaign to convert five, regional Business Service Providers (BSPs) into more extensive Enterprise Service Centers (ESCs). The ESCs will expand on the limited resources and activities of the BSPs help small agribusinesses at the county level establish market linkages and increase opportunities for growth. They will also improve access to transportation, storage and microcredit institutions, among other areas of assistance. On April 7, each of the five BSPs in Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Montserrado and Margibi Counties signed MOUs with FED. In the initial phase, a consultant from Top Consulting will embed in each of the BSPs to assess their existing resources and to develop a tailor-made business plan. Unlike the BSPs, the ESCs will be based on a fee-for-service business model, to promote sustainability after the closedown of FED.
  • Cassava Input Harvesting Begins: On April 11, FED began harvesting the cuttings of nine improved cassava varieties from the Lofa screening site. Because of their higher yields and resistance to disease, these varieties were imported from IITA Nigeria in 2014 and multiplied at the Lofa screening site. A planned total of 113,040 cuttings will be harvested for distribution to 80 cassava nurseries in Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties. These cuttings will be distributed and planted by the nurseries before the onset of the rainy season.
  • Training for Lead Goat Farmers: FED’s Goat Value Chain specialist conducted an on-site practical training for 52 FY16 lead goat farmers in Bong, Lofa and Grand Bassa Counties. The trainings focused on goat-herd production, management and mineral-block (salt lick) production techniques as well as the design of goat shelter made of locally available materials, with the understanding that the lead farmers will pass on the acquired knowledge to the members of their goat-producer groups.
  • PPR Vaccinations Campaign: The Goat Value Chain specialists visited three FY15 goat production sites in Kolitawula, Gbaota and Kweyarkula Town, Bong County, to determine how many goats had been vaccinated in those communities under the BRAC-led PPR Vaccinations Campaign. FED has contracted BRAC, an international nongovernmental organization, to implement the vaccinations for as many as 108,000 goats and sheep in Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties. About 180 goat production sites under the FED project are expected to benefit from the ongoing goat’s vaccination campaign.
  • Rice Business Hubs: Six rice business hubs in Lofa and Bong Counties were completed and all equipment installed in April. Five of these rice business hubs had their equipment tested by FED’s in-house equipment mechanic. It is anticipated that all the pending rice business hubs will be fully functional by the end of May.

FED Activity Highlights: August 2016

Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Activity Highlights for August 1st-15th, 2016

  • FED’s M&E Director, Andrea Chartock, worked in-country during this entire reporting period to prepare for the Enterprise Survey, which covers indicators such as investments, change in profitability, and access to finance. Thirty enumerators were trained to administer the survey. In addition, Andrea led the FED team in an exercise to adjust FY2016 indicator targets in order to prepare the modified PMP to be submitted to Mission in early September. This modified PMP will provide essential information about how data will be collected and analyzed on the fifteen FY2016 indicators which FED has been assigned for annual and final reporting. While in Liberia, Andrea also collaborated with our HQ statistical experts to analyze data from the previously conducted Smallholder Survey. Preparations were also made to complete this Smallholder Survey with interviews to be conducted with cassava value chain actors in September. The cassava value chain is being addressed later than the other value chains given the timing of the agricultural cycle for that crop.
  • FED extension officers were also brought together during this reporting period to review and update the project beneficiary listings district-by-district. The beneficiary listings had been plagued with questions about possible duplications, rendering it difficult to determine precisely how many beneficiaries the project has served. After extensive review, it now appears that the number of duplicates was minimal, approximately 4,000 from the more than 80,000 on the list. Given the expected 10,000-12,000 new beneficiaries served during FY2016, we expect the final listings to indicate that the total number of beneficiaries served since project inception will approach 90,000.
  • On August 10, the FED M&E team attended a workshop on USAID/Liberia’s Performance Indicator Database System (PIDS) at the USAID Liberia Strategic Analysis (LSA) project offices in Monrovia. Following the workshop, the team met with LSA staff to discuss next steps in modifying PIDS to best accommodate FED’s M&E indicators.
  • FED consultants conducted a series of training programs for Centers of Excellence (COEs) staff members at BWI and Grand Bassa County Community College (GBCCC). Thomas Kanneh facilitated sessions on grant proposal writing for administrative and faculty staff of BWI and GBCCC; while IFDC consultant Emmanuel Lincoln conducted refresher sessions on soil testing for laboratory technicians. These workshops were conducted for Nimba and Lofa County Community Colleges in July.
  • FED began the handover process for the most recently-procured textbooks and reference materials to the four CoEs. To date, handover has occurred at BWI and GBCC. The exercise will continue at the Lofa and Nimba County community colleges during the last two weeks of August. FED is providing textbooks and other reference materials to support faculty and students of the National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) program. In total, 144 books will be distributed to the CoEs’ newly renovated libraries. The collection includes 12 textbook titles and eight reference guides.
  • Planning for the upcoming Agribusiness Expo is progressing well. To date, FED is finalizing procurement of the venue, catering services, construction of presentation booths, and printing. The Opening Program, plenary panel sessions, workshop presentations and booth exhibitions are being designed, and booth exhibitors have been identified. Invitations are already being distributed to prospective Expo participants, which are expected to number approximately 150.
  • Top Consultants, Inc. (TCI) delivered its final report and conducted the exit presentation of its efforts to build capacity of the five business service providers and graduate them to full-fledged Enterprise Service Centers at the FED office on August 5. The presentation concluded a multi-year effort to build capacity of these organizations to provide essential agribusiness support services at the County level. TCi confirmed that all five of the BSPs have qualified to graduate as Enterprise Service Centers (ESC). The criteria for achieving this status included building a client base, development of business plans for a fee-for-service business model, and demonstrated capacity to generate revenue and add value to agriculture chains across their respective counties. FED plans to formally recognize the ESC achievements at the Agribusiness Expo in September.
  • FED prioritized the final stages of its VSLA activity in early August and will complete implementation of the activity before September 15. Three additional groups – Lorkoe, Zordomon and Kwakerseh in Nimba County – successfully completed their first cycles, executed an action audit, and graduated to VSLA status. The groups reported near maximum membership of 30 each. In total, the three groups in invested a total of US$11,638 in shares and saved US$ 723 in a social fund. The latter fund is used to support activities for lending to avoid using the investment shares for this purpose.
  • A two-person video-graphic team concluded a week-long trip to Liberia during this reporting period to prepare a video highlighting FED activities to be presented at the Agribusiness Expo. The team filmed activities in both rice and vegetable value chains and interviewed project beneficiaries, tracing activities along the value chain. Youth power tiller and tuk-tuk operators are also highlighted in the video.
  • The goat quarantine facility which is being rehabilitated to host the Goat Nucleus Herd Breeding Center at the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) is expected to be completed and handed over to CARI in early September.
  • The management of Golden Beach has agreed to pre-finance the purchase of herb seeds for planting at the Careysburg vegetable site.
  • During the first two weeks of August, FED completed the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for FALAMA Inc.’s proposed industrial cassava flour mill to be constructed at Fendell in Montserrado County. The Longman Engineering Firm conducted the assessment. Report from the assessment will be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency for review and approval by the end of August. FALAMA is expected to establish a 10MT output capacity cassava flour mill in 2016. Discussions have been ongoing with LADA for co-financing of the processing equipment.

FED Activity Highlights: January 2016

Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Activity Highlights for January 1st-15th, 2016

  • Students enrolled in the National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) curriculum launched the NDA Student Union on January 10, 2016 at the Lofa County Community College (LCCC). The program was marked by installation of the Union’s leadership to include the following positions: President, Vice President, Financial Secretary, Treasurer and Chaplain. Several government agencies, NGO representatives, the LCCC Dean of Agriculture and administrative staff from other high schools in neighboring communities were also in attendance at the launch.
  • ACDI/VOCA confirmed the scheduled deployment of a Goat Breeding Specialist to Liberia in February 2016 to provide technical assistance to USAID/FED goat lead farmers on a community goat breeding program. Approximately 25 lead farmers including Goat value chain extension officers will be trained.
  • USAID FED and BRAC-Liberia signed a Purchase Order (PO) to conduct the FY2016 Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) vaccination campaign. Approximately 108,000 small ruminants (sheep and goats) will be vaccinated across Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties.
  • USAID FED linked the Marwah horticulture production cluster to the Royal Hotel for supply of high quality lettuce. This linkage provided a new market for the USAID FED assisted farmers. Strengthening farm-to-market links is critical to providing outlets for the increased production resulting from the adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies introduced by USAID FED. Marwah farming group and horticulture production cluster head, Alexander Moannah, has assisted farming group to produce better quality, higher-yielding and higher value vegetables through adoption of more modern production technologies. The result is higher quality lettuce acceptable to demanding customers such as the Royal Hotel and U.S. Embassy chefs. Other quality vegetables being produced are chili pepper, tomato, okra and bitter ball.
  • In December, USAID FED and Falama Inc. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the establishment of a cassava flour/starch mill just outside Monrovia capable of processing 10 MT per day. Preliminary arrangements such as site visits, preparation for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study and plant/mill design have been initiated to fast track this effort. The site is located near the national highway and has a right of way access road leading to the back side of the lot. An unfinished structure of concrete hollow blocks is located on the property which could be later developed into an administrative office and storage space.

FED Activity Highlights: August 2014

Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Activity Highlights for August 1-15, 2014:

  • The Doumpah-based rice business hub, operated by the God to Man farming group in Nimba County, sold 10 50-kg bags of milled rice to the surrounding communities. The rice came from the group’s FED-supported farm. The availability of rice processing services has helped the community increase reliance on local food sources.
  • Vegetable farmers from the United Farmers Association (UFA) received a second loan of $500,000 LD through the facilitation of FED from local micro finance institution, Liberian Entrepreneurial and Asset Development (LEAD). UFA is expected to repay the loan in 6 months
  • USAID FED conducted germination tests on new hybrid vegetable varieties intended for the FY15 project beneficiaries. The seeds with minimum of 85% germination rate are under trial at the Mawah cluster in Mount Barclay to ascertain among other things, pest and disease resistance and yield potential. Vegetable seeds include chili, okra, watermelon, cabbage, lettuce and bitterball.
  • USAID FED submitted a recording for the pilot program, “On the Farm” to UNMIL radio. This program is a 30 minute radio show focusing on agriculture and will air twice a month. The first program, which will be aired later in the month, discusses improved technologies for lowland rice, the National Diploma in Agriculture, and vegetable storage issues at Red Light market.
  • USAID FED signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nimba County Community College (NCCC). Under the agreement, USAID FED will provide agricultural inputs and technical support to NCCC’s farm development program. The MOU holds NCCC accountable to managing the farming enterprises, including provision of personnel.
  • USAID FED-supported Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW) tagged the ears of 24 does in Grand Bassa County. This is for the purpose of tracking the performance of each doe and selection of good breeders.
  • USAID FED completed 40 goat shelters across the four counties (Nimba 30; Bong 6; Lofa 3; and Grand Bassa 1).
  • A total of 137 kids (67 male, 70 female) were born to herds of USAID FED-supported goat farmers in 16 communities in Bong and Grand Bassa counties. In Bong, 123 kids were born to FED goat farmer-beneficiaries in 13 communities, while 14 kids were born in 3 communities of Grand Bassa County.
  • In Bong a total of $ 8,560 USD was generated from the sale of 107 goats (63 male, 44 female), while a total of $ 305 USD was generated in Grand Bassa from the sale of 5 goats (3 male, 2 female).

PRADD II Snapshot: How to Capture 100 Tons of Illicit Gold Leaving West Africa? Look at Diamonds

PRADD II staff and partners discussing lessons learned from diamonds for the gold sector

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) employs 100 million people worldwide and accounts for around 20% of both gold and diamond production.

In West Africa, ASM employs millions, but minerals are often sold through transnational criminal network.

“Each year we lose at least 100 tons of gold in West Africa,” said the Mining Minister from the Republic of Niger, speaking at a Regional Conference on Best Practice for the Sustainable Development of ASM. “That is worth $4 billion.”

Because of risks of terrorist financing and money-laundering, West Africa has been increasingly on the radar of international NGOS and governments.

The conference, initiated by USAID and EU-funded project Property Rights & Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD II), was the first event of its kind in West Africa.

It focused not just on shared problems but ways to harness small-scale mining for growth.

“Small-scale mining is good for the health of our sub-region,” said Tony Aubyn, Ghana’s Director of Mineral Resources. “It provides jobs and development, but we must do it right.”

Aubuynn and over 200 participants from 200 countries shared experiences and advice, focusing on the need to look at the full supply chain and not just diggers, formalize the activity instead of repress it, and promote win-win solutions so that large-scale and small-scale mining can coexist.

“Even if we employ the entire army and police, we will not be able to put it under control with force alone,” said Stephen Dorbor, Vice Minister of Mines from Liberia.

Industrial mining companies, such as majors like American company Newmont, also participated and shared their challenges with ASM.