Mobilizing the youth to support aging farmers

With the average age of farmers in Liberia increasing, now at 44 years, the ability of farmers to meet the manpower needs of the Liberia oil palm sub-sector is in doubt. Solidaridad is contributing a solution through the Commercial Farm Management Service programme that provides quality farm maintenance services for the aging oil palm farmers.

Youth, like Joseph Haye are empowered to provide farm management services to farmers through the Commercial Farm Management Service Programme

With an aging workforce, and many young people shying away from farming as a career path, there is growing concern for the future of the country's agriculture. 

The Commercial Farm Management Service programme engages youth aged between 18 and 35 to join the agricultural sector through provision of services and training. This is implemented under the Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Ghana, which seeks to contribute to the transformation of the oil palm sector in West Africa. 

Under the intervention, Solidaridad is empowering young people to provide farm management services to the aging oil palm farmers for a fee. Through this, the youth are able to make a decent living out of farming and yet provide the critical manpower needed for oil palm production in Liberia. 

Solidaridad trains the youth in best management practices so they can support farmers with the right services that assure yield improvements. Additionally, the youth receive starter kits that include farm tools and inputs to support their work.

The Zalekai Youth Group grows their business

Zalekai Youth Group in Bomi County, in Western Liberia, is one of the beneficiaries of the programme. The group is made up of about 60 members of which 50% are women. Since 2019, Solidaridad has trained and retooled the group to provide farm management services to smallholder oil palm farmers and large plantations.  

After one year of operations, the group has re-invested part of their proceeds into formalising their business. Now legally registered with support from Solidaridad, the group secured a parcel of land for the construction of an office building to enable them to scale up their activities. 

The Zalekai Youth Group is constructing an office to support their activities

“Owning an office building will create more visibility and permanency for our business. It is a life-changing experience that keeps us busy in farming to support the future of agriculture in our dear nation,” says 24-year-old Joseph Haye, secretary to the Zalekai Youth Group.

“We will work hard to keep investing in the business and to keep it active even when Solidaridad’s support is no more forthcoming,” he says. 

“We are happy to see how the youth are making a business out of farming and to contribute their strength to improve agriculture in Liberia. Solidaridad will continue to support them to professionalize farming to attract more youth into agriculture,” says J. Cyrus Saygbe Sr. Solidaridad’s oil palm programme manager in Liberia. 

Members of the Youth Group work together to construct the office building

For 20-year-old mother of one, Fatu Kollie, joining the group has given her a sense of purpose after she dropped out of school. 

“I chose to join the group because I have a baby to take care of. I also have plans to go back and complete my high school education once I raise enough money from our work,” she says.

According to her, working with the male members of the group has been cordial.  She says while the men do the laborious work, the females support with circle weeding, path laying, and other crucial services.  

Like the Zalekai Youth Group many others have also benefited from the Commercial Farm Management Service programme. So far, 440 youth in five counties in Liberia have benefitted from the intervention.
Read more about our work in Palm Oil.

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