Sierra Leone - Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) implemented through the Agriculture Value Chain Development Project (AVDP) - June 2022
Aja Thoa Conteh is 54 years old and has five children, the oldest of whom is currently at university studying medicine. She is Chairwoman of the Denkola II Women Association in Kanuka, a small village located near the district capital, Kabala, in Northern Province, known as the vegetable basket of Sierra Leone. She grows sweet potatoes, rice, cassava, maize, groundnuts and many different vegetable crops. She sells most of her products locally and at the big market in Kabala town but saves enough for her own household consumption and keeps seeds for the next planting season.
“The breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed was the worst part of my life. With the roads blocked and the markets closed, I could only sell small quantities to some people in the village and was forced to discard the rest of my production. I used the little bit of money I could earn just to buy staple foods that I couldn’t produce myself.”
The AVDP targeted the Denkola II Women Association, a group of 30 women farmers, as a part of its RPSF intervention. The group received seeds, fertilizer and other farming inputs to help them resume their pre-lockdown production. RPSF also helped the women get started with large-scale onion production, providing them with seed bulbs, a large drying and curing machine (and generator to run it), as well as training on how to use the machine to add value and to avoid post-harvest losses of their products.
“Without the support of RPSF, our lives would be miserable. The Covid-19 packages we received from government or NGOs during the pandemic period just provided what we needed to make it through the day. But with the highly profitable onion production, RPSF not only helped us recover from the impact of Covid-19, it gave us something that will last forever.”
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