Creating Value: How a multipurpose cooperative is linking farmers to market
Needonwen Community is home to some subsistence farmers in Margibi County. For the past years, farmers have been making small gardens to feed their households but, a group popularly known as WHOGASEDA is providing a new course to farmers. The group is ensuring that farmers have a good market linkage for their produces.
Founder and CEO of the group, Ezekiel Ballah noted that a good market linkage can increase yield.
“Lack of market has affected our production size for the past years. ‘Who will like to continue growing crops where there is no market for it?’ Nobody will like to do such,” he said, recalling some of their challenging days. “Once farmers are sure of a market they won’t worry about production; this is the change we are working to achieve.”
The cooperative buy farmers’ produce and resell them but at the same time, the group renders extension services and gives out tools and inputs to farmers. Despite middlemen influencing prices, Ballah’s group is determined to ensuring fair trade. The cooperative teaches farmers about record keeping, marketing planning, and practices.
“We are not buying produces without our farmers knowing the worth of their goods,” said Ballah. “We make it optional either to pre-finance production or buy the harvest. We trained them the basics of marketing; this is a means to help and not to exploit our farmers.”
Mary Toe is one of WHOGASEDA member farmers. The grandmother of four children currently grows vegetables on one acre, a spot that is under lease to the corporation. “The group has been helpful. Through their effort, I now have a place to grow vegetables. What you don’t know is that getting land here is difficult and I happy to have a place to farm,” said Madam Toe. “Another thing I am grateful of is to have someone buying what I grow. It has motivated woman like me to do more.”
Since its establishment two years ago, WHOGASEDA has flourished in membership and production. The cooperative farms on 10 acres and has three partnership farms around Margibi.