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Desert Trading Inc : Using Cocoa Farming To Revive Liberia

The photo, “Cocoa Beans” is copyright Bill Zimmerman and made available under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) License

Desert Trading Inc a venture by Sheikh A.Turay is aiming to revive the war-torn Liberia through cocoa production. Liberia was once a major producer of cocoa however during the 14 year long civil war in the country, the cocoa production took a major hit. The farmers were forced to abandon their farms and the farming was totally neglected. Though the war ended in 2003, Liberians are still struggling to cope with the aftermath. Poverty is prevalent, it is estimated that 76% of the population lives below the poverty line of US $1 a day and 52% living in extreme poverty of under US $0.50 a day.

Sheikh, a Liberian, is determined to help his countrymen overcome poverty by boosting cocoa production. He plans to revitalize cocoa farming and through that improve the living conditions of rural communities and  former child soldiers.  His strategy is to identify abandon  cocoa farms and their owners, provide technical, financial, and logistical support to these farmers to help enhance production. Desert Trading Inc then purchases the produced cocoa yielded to sell to  buyers in the market.

Desert Trading Inc is working closely with the Liberian Produce & Marketing Corporation (Government Agency) and the Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers (IDEFOCS), a venture that is run by Former Child Soldiers themselves. Sheikh has already given a face lift to three abandoned farms and provided financial and logistical support to twenty farmers across Liberia. He has employed over 50 former child soldiers in the trade, who are now earning a monthly income of $150.

Sheikh started work on his venture in 2008 and to date the business has been self sustaining. To expand further, Sheikh is looking to raise investment and has applied to Unreasonable Institute, a US based social start up accelerator, which would help him gain access to the network, capital and mentorship needed. He has recently been selected as one of the finalists by the Unreasonable Institute. To make it to the final round, Sheikh needs to raise USD10,000 on the Unreasonable Marketplace by March 7th.  If you like what he is doing, please go over to Unreasonable Marketplace to fund his venture, Desert Trading Inc. You can  support him with whatever amount you are comfortable.  Sheikh really hopes to get into the Unreasonable Institute to take his venture to the next level.

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    Deepa Chaudhary
    I have extensively worked at grass-roots from working in the slums of Mumbai to being on the frontline of numerous disaster relief efforts. I'm passionate about social entrepreneurship and I love discovering and writing about new trends in the social good space.

    Image Credit / Description: The photo, “Cocoa Beans” is copyright Bill Zimmerman and made available under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) License

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