by Edwin Kollie, LMI Resident and St. Kitzio High School Senior
Cassava is one of the main staple foods of Liberia. We at Liberia Mission started our cassava project in April 2012. Each residential student uses his or her three hours of required work per week to make a contribution to the planting effort. Additionally, the students who participated in the summer work program contributed a great deal by regularly weeding around the plants throughout the rainy season. Our cassava field has about six thousand cassava plants. It covers three acres of our 25- acre campus property.
Though we are very happy with the project, cleaning the field is one of our great challenges. Cleaning/clearing the underbrush is all done manually using hoes and cutlasses. We then remove the weeds with our hands.
According to Uncle Nufea – one of our house-fathers – the 3 acres of cassava will yield approximately two hundred bags of cassava at harvest. Most of the cassava will be used in our own Mission’s kitchen. We will make many traditional dishes using almost every part of the plant. The leaves will be pounded and used to make soup. The tuberous roots will be dug out and ground to make garee and fufu. Both these dishes are true Liberian fare and are used for breakfast and dinner.
A bag of cassava in the market – where we buy most of our food for the kitchen – costs about one thousand two hundred Liberian dollars ($1200LD/ $16USD). Our 200 bags of cassava will have a market value of $3,200 at harvest. That is significant amount of money in Liberia.
At present, our cassava plants are just over five feet tall and will be ready for harvest in January. We are very happy to contribute to the mission this way – this is our way of saying thank you to the mission for the many generosities we continue to receive. This process is helping us to learn how to: run a farm business, work hard, and contribute to the long-term goal of a self-sustainable Mission.