Solar-powered Prefab Facilities Commissioned For Vegetable Sellers

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In a significant boost to the local agriculture sector, the Liberia Vegetable Seller Association (LVSA) celebrated the commissioning of a new solar-powered prefab container and solar freezer storage facilities at the omega market on Wednesday 29 May. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Livelihood & Employment Creation Project procured two forty-foot solar-powered prefab facilities and 8 solar freezers. Solar-powered prefab containers and solar freezers are innovative and sustainable solutions to boost the income of vegetable sellers and fisherfolks and foster food security. These initiatives harness renewable energy from solar panels to power prefab container units and freezers at much lower rates than grid-based electricity.  Solar energy is clean and renewable; thus, these setups help to reduce carbon emissions. The solar-powered prefab container and solar freezers are particularly advantageous to vegetable sellers and women fishers in areas with limited and irregular power supply. These systems allow vegetable sellers and women fishers to store their goods for extended periods without spoilage, helping them access more markets to secure better prices for their produce. The event was attended by government officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, representatives from UNDP, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Liberian Marketing Association (LMA), and LVSA.  This initiative is expected to reduce post-harvest losses, ensure better quality produce, reach consumers, and ultimately improve the livelihoods of local farmers and sellers.  In his remarks, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce, Wilmot A. Reeves, emphasized the government’s commitment to empowering small businesses and improving the agricultural value chain. Mr. Reeves said he would work with the UNDP and other partners to have the facility replicated in all parts of Liberia. He also encouraged farmers to grow more rice. 

On behalf of UNDP, Dorsla Farcathy Team Leader for the Inclusive Green Growth Portfolio, reassured the government of Liberia of UNDPs continued support and reliable partnership with the government and people of Liberia. He also thanked the government for the cordial working relationship that has manifested into such a huge investment. He further urged that they sustain and prioritize the protection of the facility. The President of the Liberia Vegetable Seller Association Sumo Mulbah expressed appreciation to UNDP and the government for such an innovative project and the new facilities, highlighting the challenges they faced in the past. Mr. Mulbah pledged his commitment to ensuring that the facility is used by farmers, vegetable sellers, and women fishers to store their goods. He further appealed to the government to rehabilitate the road leading to the storage facility because it is in terrible condition.  “For years, we have struggled with a lack of proper storage, which often leads to significant losses. These facilities will help us keep our produce fresh for longer periods and allow us to serve our customers better,” Sumo noted. 

The state-of-the-art storage units are equipped with modern cooling systems and are strategically located to serve various markets close to Monrovia. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to enhance agricultural productivity and market access.  As the ribbon was cut, signaling the official opening of the facilities, there was a palpable sense of optimism among the attendees. The commissioning of these storage facilities represents a forward step in addressing some of the systemic challenges faced by small-scale farmers, fisherfolks, and vegetable sellers, especially women, and fostering a more resilient and sustainable market atmosphere for them.  With these new facilities, the LVSA, with support from UNDP through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, is poised to make significant strides in enhancing the vegetable supply chain, ensuring that fresh, locally grown produce remains primarily available on the markets and in Liberian households. 

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