Food Security & Livelihoods Enhancement

We empower smallholder farmers to transform small scale agriculture from lonely struggles for survival to  small scale family’s business enterprises  capable of  increasing incomes and improving food security.

Small scale farming remains the foremost economic activity among poor families in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region. However, many farmers lack resources, training, and funds to increase their farm’s productivity. Family farmers often lack startup capital to buy basics such as improved seeds and many live-in remote villages that make it difficult to access basic supplies. Moreover, without proper agricultural training, farmers often do not know how to optimize agricultural productivity. For many farmers, translating harvests into profit presents an additional hurdle. Pest infestations, rotting crops, lack of storage facilities, and difficulties navigating local trade networks are some of the issues that prevent farmers from getting the most from their harvests in Liberia and the sub-region.

VOSIEDA improve small scale farmers’ access to improved seeds and better agricultural training to improve harvests and conserve biodiversity. We improve value chain and help farmers safely store their crops. Besides, we link small farmers to the market and help them build relationships with local traders. Moreover, we work to address the persisting inequalities that effect the under performance of small-scale agriculture in Liberia and sub-region, through empowerment of rural women, men, girls, and boys, equally.

Our Priority Areas

Conservation Agriculture

Liberia and the Mano River Union Basin are forested region and approximately one-third of soil are degraded. Conservation Agriculture is a farming system that can prevent losses of arable land while regenerating degraded lands. It promotes maintenance of a permanent soil cover, minimum soil tillage, and diversification of plant species. It enhances biodiversity and natural biological processes above and below the ground surface, which contribute to increased water and nutrient use efficiency and to improved and sustained crop production.

Our work with small-scale farmers are based on three main principles, which we adapt to reflect local conditions and needs:

  1. Minimum mechanical soil disturbance (i.e. no tillage) through direct seed and/or fertilizer placement. This reduces soil erosion and preserves soil organic matter.
  2. Permanent soil organic cover (at least 30 percent) with crop residues and/or covers crops. Maintaining a protective layer of vegetation on the soil surface suppresses weeds, protects the soil from the impact of extreme weather patterns, helps to preserve soil moisture, and avoids compaction of the soil.
  3. Species diversification through varied crop sequences and associations involving at least three different crops. We are helping farmers to promote good soil structure through crops rotation, fosters a diverse range of soil flora and fauna that contributes to nutrient cycling and improved plant nutrition, and helps to prevent pests and diseases.

Inputs Distribution and Agricultural Training

In Liberia and the Mano River Basin region, basic technologies such as improved seeds are often unavailable. The minority of smallholder farmers must travel to the big cities to buy a bag of chemical fertilizer or a can of improved seed, often imported from oversea. However, the majority of farm families are unable to access the start-up capital to make the trip or to purchase a bag of chemical fertilizer. Besides, even those that can afford often struggle to optimize their farming output without proper training on agricultural best practices.

VOSIEDA strive to deliver high-quality farm inputs within walking distance of small-scale farmers at the start of their planting season. Throughout the season, our staff delivers in-field training on best farming practices. And at harvest time, our team provide farmers with the tools and knowledge to safely store their harvest and sell during the off-season for a considerable profit.

Financing and Capacity Building of Farmers Organizations

Smallholder farming dominates agriculture in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region. Nevertheless, most smallholder farmers use traditional methods or low-resource technology, handed down to them from generations. Besides, most of them rarely leverage their numbers to secure better services, access inputs, markets, and educational services for their members. Their situation is due to a poor understanding of how to access those services. They also poorly govern and manage their organizations and are influenced by the unfortunate lack of trust that characterizes the local communities in which they operate. In response, VOSIEDA is working to enhance the institutional capacities of these organizations and enable them to benefit the farmers they serve. We also work to link farmers’ organizations to the markets and build the capacities of farmers’ organizations to influence policies in their favor.

Besides, we provide farmers’ organizations with asset-based loans that include high-quality seeds and fertilizer and offer a flexible repayment system that allows small scales farmers to pay back their loans in any amount throughout the loan term.

Post-Harvest Handling and Market Facilitations

Studies and realities have shown that small holders’ farmers in Mano River Basin often sell surplus production at farm gate prices, receiving only 10% to 20% of the sale price, with the rest eaten up by various transaction costs such as transportation and post-harvest losses. We are working with farmers to improve market opportunities; access to market information and increase the demand for commodities by developing markets for alternative uses, such as processing and value addition.

We offer transportation and crop storage solutions for the farmers we serve. We also provide smallholder farmers’ market information and teach farmers about market fluctuations. We aim to empower small-scale farmers to sell their crops to make maximal profits.

Safety Net (cash transfer and in-kind and food assistance)

According to the World Bank, an estimated 36 percent of the very poor escaped extreme poverty because of social safety nets. This provides clear evidence that social safety net programs—which include cash, food, in-kind transfers, social pensions, public works, and school feeding programs targeted to poor and vulnerable households—make a substantial impact in the fight against poverty. Data also shows that these programs lower inequality and reduce the poverty gap by about 45 percent.

 Accordingly, VOSIEDA supports and undertakes sustainable and affordable safety net programs that protect families from the impact of economic shocks, natural disasters, crops failures, and other crises. Our safety net interventions range from cash transfers, in-kind, and food assistance to public works. These social safety nets have positive and significant impacts on education, health, and food security, but also promote households’ ability to generate income that can lead to positive effects in local communities.

Food Security & Livelihoods Enhancements

Animal health, laboratory skills, ruminant nutrition, and vaccination programs

Strengthening farmers organizations in post-harvest technology and community grain reserves

Smallholder tree crop revitalization support project (oil palm component)

Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Liberia

Promoting food security in Central Liberia (CL) through commercial vegetable and fruits value chain development and livestock production

Increasing capacity for market-oriented vegetable production in Liberia