Global Agro Inc’s machine rental brings relief to Liberian smallholder farmers
In Liberia, over 90% of smallholder farmers experienced low productivity because of reliance on human labor to practice traditional ‘slash and burn’ farming. To these farmers, the use of farm machinery in their fields seems a distant dream due to the unavailability and high cost of equipment. Farm mechanization enhances the timeliness of agricultural operations; and reduces manual labor, particularly for women, children, and the elderly.
To ensure smallholders’ access to affordable farm machinery services, USAID Feed the Future Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) awarded Global Agro Inc., an agro-mechanization equipment rental company, an in-kind grant of $144,135 USD to expand the provision of farm mechanization services to smallholder farmers across LADA’s program locations in Montserrado, Bong, Nimba, and Lofa counties. The grant amount was used to procure farm mechanization equipment such as power tillers, trans-planters, mini farm tractors, combine harvesters, thrashers, and winnowers for the provision of farm mechanization services to smallholder farmers at affordable rental fees. Additionally, LADA linked Global Agro Inc. to smallholder farmer groups in major rice and cassava production, supporting the development of the country’s two main staple crops.
Global Agro Inc. uses a fee-for-service model in providing mechanization services to smallholder farmers. Fees for services rendered are settled in kind or cash based on the convenience of the participating parties. Farmers benefit from land clearing, field preparation, harvesting, threshing, and winnowing services and pay at harvest with the flexibility of the fee-for-service model.
Ma-Yanma, a farmer benefiting from the service, expressed delight for the agro-machine rental services. “I was going to take over a month and spend more than $300 if I were to use human labor. Now, the machine was able to plow my field in just two days and I spent $155. I am also healthy.”.
In February 2020, Global Agro Inc. deployed 10 power tillers (5 in Lofa and 5 in Nimba County). With LADA’s support, the enterprise conducted trial farm mechanization demonstrations to approximately 75 smallholders plowing about 60 hectares of farmlands in Foya and Voinjama Districts. The farmers have shown interest to use the equipment rental services during the planting season (April – July 2020).
Over the next few months, Global Agro Inc. plans to engage more than 5,000 smallholder farmers in Lofa, Nimba, and Bong counties to benefit from mechanization services. The enterprise also plans to increase its pool of machinery to effectively render services to farmers in real-time.
The Liberia Agricultural Development Activity (LADA) is a USAID/Feed the Future activity with the overarching goal to increase incomes of 23,500 smallholder farmers in the targeted value chains of rice, cassava, vegetable, aquaculture, and cocoa through private sector investment in the agricultural sector. LADA is in its fifth year of implementation in Montserrado, Bong, Lofa, and Nimba counties.