How an improved cassava production can strengthen a village and provide oppertunities for former child soldiers?
In a previous post we reported on new developments on the IDEA10 farm in Little Bassa, Liberia. Action10 and our partner organisation IDEFOCS have huge hopes for this project to become self-sustaining. Our long-term plan is to build a Botanical Reintegration Village (BRV), an institution that will provide rehabilitation and reintegration to vulnerable youths and former child soldiers.
Little Bassa is a village community located by the ocean near the town of Edina in Liberia. In Little Bassa, cassava provides the basic diet for the villagers (besides fish) making it an important staple food. Cassava is a major source of carbohydrates and is used in many local foods (i.e. gari, fufu, acheke). Growing cassava is also one of the major sources of income for rural farmers in Little Bassa. The villagers depend on this income to support their families (food and shelter) as well as to send their children to school.
Cassava processing is a rural enterprise which adds value to the product and increases the marketing opportunities for small and semi-subsistence farmers. At the moment there are constraints on current cassava production because farmers lack ways to preserve the cassava tubers. Instead the cassava tubers are only sold raw, rather than being refined and sold at a higher price.
Cassava with its relatively short life-span require processing or else deteriorates within two or three days after harvesting. Additionally, the roots need to have the cyanogenic glucocides (a highly toxic substance) reduced to a level which is acceptable for consumption. The traditional processing techniques are difficult, with washing, peeling, resting, fermenting and heat treatment being typical of the processing of for instance gari and fufu.
Action10 and IDEFOCS are undergoing plans to develop efficient ways of improving cassava production. Our aim is to teach the cassava farmers production techniques and employ the cassava tubers into other local foods. Furthermore, Action10 and IDEFOCS have plans to invest in a cassava mill machine and build a canopy in which the mill machine will stand. This will capacitate the cassava farmers to increase their cassava production and consequently provide an economic and social platform for our youth rehabilitation program.
IDEFOCS have already trained five local farmers on cassava farming techniques as well as supported each farmer in clearing land for farming. The farmers were also trained in employing the cassava tubers into other local Liberian foods. All farmers who collaborate with our program will have free access to the mill machine and in return give back some of their harvest to the IDEA10 program. This will help to fund our BRV program. Some of the funds will also go to supporting another five cassava farmers per year and bring more farmers into our program. This way more villagers can profit from the mill machine and directly support the IDEA10 program.
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