Reducing poverty through access to new markets

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Reducing poverty through access to new markets

25 September 2015 – Amara Koroma, who lives in the Eastern region Republic of Sierra Leone, inherited an old farm from his father many years ago but wasn’t able to make it pay.

He eked out a living for himself and his family through a combination of subsistence farming and his other trade, photography.

“I used to earn very few thousand Leones,” he says – which, at 5,000 Leones to the US dollar, is barely enough to survive.

But then an IFAD-supported project came along, and Amara’s horizons became broader.

“I started this cocoa programme when we heard from people that we should come and register as farmers,” Amara says.

He joined the Tegloma Cocoa Farmers' Cooperative of Kailahun, and through the project he learned about improved production methods and sustainable farming, and gained access to new markets.

“I hadn't [given] much attention about farming, but since the coming in of IFAD,  they trained us, and I was able to do something with my farm, rehabilitate my farm, and now the yield is increasing,” he says.

Amara's success as a cocoa farmer has enabled him to improve his children's lives and offer them education and new opportunities – all because of his farming.
 

“IFAD came in, they trained us about quality production, to produce grade 1, which is marketable in the whole market. Now we are doing business with Japan, which is very good for us,” says Amara.

Through the Rehabilitation and Community-based Poverty Reduction project a nursery was started, and participants learned about FairTrade certification, which commands a premium price.

“IFAD came in and taught us to be professional farmers,” he states. Amara has over six acres of cocoa plantation and hopes to develop more.
His success as a farmer has enabled Amara to improve his children’s lives and offer them education and new opportunities – all because of his farming.

And he can even see a future in which he hands on his growing business to the next generation.

 

The income I am getting now is encouraging. I have sent my children to school, one is now in college in his final year, so I am finding farming very comfortable.

“The income I am getting now is encouraging. I have sent my children to school, one is now in college in his final year, so I am finding farming very comfortable," says Amara.

"I want to be a cocoa farmer, in fact I want my children to take over, I take them around, sometimes the bigger ones they see what I am doing.”

For Amara and other members of the cooperative, farming is about much more than making money. It has given them not only more income but more choices, and more control over their future.

Summing up, “Empowerment is what we want,” Amara says.