Empowering Koinadugu women farmers in Sierra Leone

In the framework of its support to Ebola recovery, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) donated a 45 KVA generator worth USD 15 000 to the Koinadugu Women Vegetable Farmers’ Cooperative. The generator will be used to power the Cooperative’s 40 feet long refrigerator which can load up to 500 bags of vegetables.

The generator was procured with financial support from the African Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) as part of its engagement to help farmers recover from the devastation caused by the Ebola disease epidemic in Sierra Leone. This assistance complements other ASTF-funded activities to boost the cooperative’s activities. In particular, cash transfers enabled them to purchase quality vegetable seeds and replenish their depleted funds following the Ebola outbreak, for a total amount of USD 29 000. 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 seven hundred women engaged in vegetable farming as a major source of livelihood, from over ten communities in the Koinadugu District.

On 7 February 2016, handing over the generator kit, the FAO Representative, Dr Gabriel Rugalema, told the women farmers that the ASTF support is meant to wipe the bitter experiences caused by the Ebola outbreak and enable them to revive their activities with increased productivity.

“We provided you this generator to enable you preserve your commodities until transportation to market so that you can get better prices from them, which can quickly elevate your profits.” he stated.

Dr Rugalema congratulated the women farmers for being resilient and for continuing their activities amidst the devastation caused by the epidemic. He admonished them to properly manage the generator so that it can last longer and help them maximize their benefits in the medium and long term.

The Chairlady of the cooperative, Haja Sundu Marah, expressed gratitude to FAO and ASTF for this support. She stated that the possession of the generator is a realisation of a decade dream and will play a key role in improving the value chain in their business.

Ms Sundu Marah recounted that her membership had long been suffering huge post-harvest losses and price volatility because of the lack of electricity. “Even the Ebola disease devastation would not have been that huge if we had electricity to refrigerate, stock and preserve our goods until the movement restriction and quarantine measures were minimised” she lamented.

She described the generator donation to be very timely and crucial to their livelihoods, especially now that they are gradually recovering from Ebola’s impact on their activities.

The Speaker of Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom, Chief Tortor Kargbo, described the assistance as perfectly seized to reduce a major burden for the entire community in the district, as that was a responsibility that the chiefdom authorities had always pondered about, but never fulfilled because they lacked the means to so. 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 fashion for been very supportive to them over the years.

The ASTF Ebola recovery support has directly benefitted 2 900 farming households in Sierra Leone mainly through agricultural inputs distributions, 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.