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Sierra Leone News: Farm fresh market at Radisson Blu

Mabinty Koroma offers fresh vegetables

Mabinty Koroma offers fresh vegetables

Every third Saturday of the month, farmers, food specialists, entrepreneurs and hungry shoppers gather at the beach compound of the Radisson Blu Hotel on Lumley Beach Road to purchase, sample and support local produce and production.
On 17 June 2017, following a downpour of rain, farmers welcomed shoppers to their covered tables at the Freetown Farmer’s Market.
Alitta Ansu-Katta runs Eat Smart – Sierra Leone. Eat Smart is a meal plan catering company that features healthy foods delivered directly to homes and offices. She was busy doing her weekly shopping at the farmer’s market. “I come here to buy fresh, organic, healthy foods. My company promotes healthy eating as part of a healthy lifestyle. Here, at the market, I can get the freshest foods and produce.”
“We come from Regent,” says farmer Mabinty Koroma. “We bring produce like plantain, lettuce, pepper and corn to the city. This market offers us a good site to sell and there are usually a good number of customers.”
Produce tables were circled around a fresh, green open area as shoppers strolled and peeped at products made in Sierra Leone by local farmers and small business owners. Blue awnings covered the tables of yams, cassava, cabbage, pineapples and mangos. It was a bounty of fresh foods and delicious looking vegetables.
Hajare Bockarie and her daughter, Miatta, were selling locally grown, brown, country rice from Moyamba District. “Arul Rice,” she said, “is very local, clean and ready to wash and cook. We process the rice so it’s clean… and has all the excellent nutrition of our local rice.” A 10 kilogram bag of this Salone delicacy costs Le50,000.
The farmer’s market started in April and runs monthly. It features foods, vegetables and locally produced food products. Noellen Barber runs Nianda Agriculture and Trading and organizes the market activities with support from Sierra Leone Opportunities for Business Action (SOBA), a program of Adam Smith International. Barber said, “We’re building networks and partnerships to build income for farmers without having to go through middlemen. Our farmers are diversifying and learning to be business people as well as food producers.”
Some of the products for sale included, coffee beans and ground coffee, cheese sticks, bennie cakes, ginger beer, muffins and cakes, doughnuts and even some sweet peppermint designs. Fatim Wright is a small businessperson who adds value to locally available produce. She sells small containers of doughnuts and beautifully prepared bennie and groundnut cakes. “I love foods and use locally produced foods to make them sweet.” Wright’s table was a popular stop for shoppers. Alongside her cakes and doughnuts, she had small bags of very colourful twists of peppermint. “I use peppermint to make different designs that I weave together.” Her peppermint baskets were stunning to look at and even sweeter to taste.
Among the crops normally exported as raw beans is coffee. Hannah Tarawally is hoping to change that and has a business that roasts and grinds coffee beans from Kono. She got involved with the Farmer’s Market out of a competition for young entrepreneurs. “I had this idea to add value to our own coffee beans. I learned about business and now I’m producing coffee for our local market. Who knows, when my company gets big, I can start exporting a fine Sierra Leone coffee.”
Farmer’s markets are popular around the world and are famous for the freshest produce – directly from the farmer’s field. As we say in Salone, “from God to man” and “from field to farmer’s market.”
SD/17/6/17
Monday June 19, 2017.

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