A huge storage facility aimed improving the lives of artisanal fish farmers and fish mongers, has been officially dedicated in the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
The storage facility, which has several compartments for the cold storing of fishery products, was constructed by the National Fish Farmers Union of Liberia (NAFUL) in collaboration with Young Women Organization for Improvement (WOFIM), with support from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Speaking at ceremony marking the official opening of the facility on Thursday, May 24, 2018, the Founder and Executive Director of WOFIM and Chairperson of NAFUL, Madam Kona Kollie, disclosed the newly dedicated facility is one of three UNMIL supported storage facilities constructed by NAFUL.
She also disclosed that two of those facilities have already been dedicated in the Borough of New Kru Town on the Bushrod Island, outside Monrovia, and in the Township of West Point in Monrovia respectively.
The WOFIM/NAFUL boss recounted that there are many opportunities in the fishery sector, especially for women and as such there is a need for investment in the sector.
“In Liberia here there is huge opportunity for us in the fishery sector, but we do not know, but when you get to The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria then you will know what I am telling you. We should not allow this to slip our hands,” she warned.
Madam Kollie indicated that the three storage facilities would be used and properly managed by three cooperatives set up by the organization (NAFUL).
She revealed that as part of its activities with fish farmers and mongers, WOFIM/NAFUL have also decided to recruit some less fortunate Liberian youth otherwise known as “Zorgos” into the fishery sector by providing training for them.
“What we aim to realize under this very program is to buttress government’s pro-poor agenda by getting those youth off the streets to provide employment opportunity for them,” she explained.
Also speaking at the program, a representative of UNDP, Mr. Paul Allen lauded NAFUL/WOFIM for the initiative, which is aimed at improving the lives of ordinary citizens of Liberia.
With the structure now erected, Allen vowed that UNDP through its Business Opportunity Support Service (BOSS) would remain engaged with NAFUL/WOFIM so that the vision of the women-led organizations does not die down.
“We want to say a big thank to Madam Kona Kollie and her team for the passion for the job and the work they are doing. We have also come to recommit ourselves as a project arm of UNDP that we will work NAFUL in whatsoever way that we have started, and we are committed to do what we are ought to do,” Allen promised.
As part of its commitment to the project, he said UNDP will continue to train members of the cooperatives of NAFUL to enhance productivity.
In brief remarks, the Land Commissioner for Grand Bassa County, Mr. James Harris, urged members of the cooperative to take ownership of the newly constructed facility by properly managing and maintaining it.
Mr. Harris observed that many projects of this kind have come and died due to the lack of proper management and maintenance.
“As a Land Commissioner of this county, I am so overwhelmed by your zealousness and commitment to erect such a huge facility here within no time. But mine caution to you is that you, as a group, you need to take this facility and the land as your own. In fact, I want to encourage you to fence it to avoid encroachment. That’s all we want from you,” he added.
Meanwhile, the official dedication of the storage facility was followed by the official launch of a vocational skills training program by WOFIM in the county.
Kona said the skills training program is intended to train women and youth of the county in different vocations, which are vital to economic growth.