By: Staff Writer
In a country where over 80 percent of food is imported, the development of agriculture cannot be overemphasized. The sad news is that even when local community women group themselves and strive for cooperative farming, they are left to handle farming activities by themselves. This is particularly heartbreaking as farm produce is left to spoil due to lack of buying opportunities.
This was true when Prof. Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo recently attended the Meni-nina and Palaquelleh Village Saving Loan Association (VSLA) graduation ceremony in Panta, District 4 in rural Bong County. A year ago, the women organized themselves and formed a VSLA.
The VSLA is an informal institution where members of the association save and borrow money. Those that borrow money pay back with small manageable interests. At the close of 12 months saving, Dr. Urey Yarkpawolo witnessed the distribution of over 800,000 $LD (eight hundred thousand Liberian Dollars) as the leaders of the women group slowly opened an iron saving box. Part of the money was support from UN Women.
“This is very impressive” Dr. Urey Yarkpawolo indicated while making a remark at the ceremony. He narrated the story that Jesus told his followers in Matthew 25:14-30 where a man gave certain money to three of his servants. One of them invested what was given to him and earned profit while the other two kept their money. Based upon their report, the Master multiplied the amount given to the investor-servant by taking away the amount given to the other two servants who kept their money given to them without investing.
Prof. Urey Yarkpawolo thanked the women and encouraged them to do more that would demonstrate alternative narrative for Liberia. “Gone are the days when we depended on other people to solve our problems”, Prof. Urey Yarkpawolo encouraged the women.
According to Prof. Urey Yarkpwolo, one thing that saddened his heart was the news of tens of bags of corn and beans spoiling as a result of the lack of buying opportunities. The women, through their leader, asked Dr. Urey Yarkpawolo to purchase their produce. “We heard that you are buying corn and beans and we want you to help us buy our corn and beans. Last year, several bags of corn spoiled because we could not find buyers. This year, we have more corn and beans, and we are yet to find buyers” the woman narrated.
In response, Dr. Urey Yarkpawolo informed the women that he was not buying farm produce but the news of the produce spoiling “hurts” his heart. “I cannot imagine that based upon the amount of food we import, we will allow food to spoil in Liberia”, Dr. Yarkpawolo averred. He promised the women that he would speak with some of his friends to see if something can be done to help the women by buying their produce.
Meanwhile, Dr. Urey Yarkpawolo in a recent Facebook post asked the public to see if the Ministry of Agriculture or any individual or companies can help purchase the corn and beans from those who deserved to earn income from their hard labors. “These women are not asking for a hangout”. They are looking for buyers”, Dr. Urey Yarkpawolo indicated.