In 2018, Tearfund Canada, a Canadian-based charity, began a four-year project they called Hope for Port Loko. The project’s focus was to bring agricultural training to six farming villages in the Port Loko district of Sierra Leone in Western Africa. The area had been impacted by civil war and Ebola, leaving the rural farming communities decimated and in poverty.
Tearfund Canada works with local agencies across Africa and Asia to help meet the needs of people living in poverty through emergency assistance (including food, shelter, medicines, and other necessities), integrated development programs, agricultural training, primary health care, and food security programs.
A woman in the Port Loko district of Sierra Leone processes the cassava using the machinery Tearfund provided to farming co-ops in the area.
Between 2018 and 2021, Tearfund successfully introduced improved cassava planting and harvesting techniques to 300 farming households in Port Loko and helped the villages form 10 farming co-op groups. Through these supports, the participating villages increased their cassava production and processing, leading to greater food security and economic stability. However, the project’s success identified a need for more cassava processing machines as some farmers were still processing their cassava using manual graters. The co-ops also expressed a desire for more training in operating and maintaining the processing machinery.
This past year, with a $25,000 grant from the Gay Lea Foundation, Tearfund completed the Hope for Port Loko project by purchasing and delivering10 additional cassava processing machines for the farming co-ops in the Port Loko district. Sixteen community-based volunteers and 300 farmers were trained in the care and maintenance of the machines, with volunteers being taught to identify the various parts of the cassava grinder and operational steps such as cassava milling, cleaning, changing the dirty oil, and cleaning the air filter and gasoline strainer.
Following this training, six women and six men were selected as operators (two per community) to teach other women to operate the machine independently because women are more involved in cassava processing.
“Before the arrival of the new cassava machines, 30 farmers in a community only had access to one machine, which caused delays in processing because of lineups, especially in high season,” said Philip Reilly, National Director of Development and Mobilization for Tearfund Canada. “With the arrival of the new machines, the situation has changed. Now 30 farmers can access two to three cassava processing machines per community, giving them regular access to fast and efficient cassava processing.”
On behalf of Tearfund Canada and the communities involved in this project, I would like to thank the Gay Lea Foundation for supporting this project. You have empowered the communities in Port Loko to become more self-sufficient and create a brighter future for their communities.”