Like his father and grandfather, Sam Binda is a farmer. He grows okra, African eggplant and other vegetables to feed his family and sells whatever is left at his local market. As a member of CHAP—a community based farming organization—he pools his efforts with his neighbors, sharing tools and know-how. Sam is a Liberian, working to rebuild his country after a brutal 14-year civil war.
A little over a year ago, GrainCoast Inc. started working with Sam and CHAP to promote organic farming. Providing tools and training, Grain Coast helps farmers like Sam increase yields and then buys the surplus produce to sell in the capital Monrovia, where it commands a premium. The 100% Liberia owned venture makes a small profit, ensuring its sustainability.
Now it’s time to take Grain Coast to more Liberian farmers to produce even more organically grown produce. Through crowd sourcing and donations, Grain Coast will give Sam a better chance at profitability and a higher quality of life.
What is Grain Coast?
Since 2011, Grain Coast Farms has engaged in commercial vegetable farming for the Liberian domestic market. Customers include local luxury hotels, restaurants and supermarkets in Monrovia as well as a popular direct-to-consumer “vegetable box” product line similar to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes.
In the first year of operation, Grain Coast maintained a base of 50 customers and yielded gross income of $33,000 USD. In 2014, Grain Coast expects to expand the CSA subscribership to 100 with sales of more than $60,000 USD.
As Bill Tolbert, Founder and CEO, puts it: “Grain Coast empowers Liberian farmers to grow delicious organic produce safely, sustainably and profitably.”
What is the Grain Coast Plan?
- Supply a large volume of fresh okra to a European supermarket chain. Our buyer is willing to work hand-in-hand with us to ensure quality and on-time delivery.
- Use an out-grower scheme to fulfill this order and follow-on orders.
- Target 15 smallholder farmers and two community-based farming organizations in the first year.
To help this plan reach fruition, the firm is launching a fundraising campaign at indiegogo.com on June 10, 2014 here IndieGogo preview page, or watch our campaign video trailer. The team has assembled great perks, everything from personalized post-cards to opportunities for dedication, and even a two person eco-tour to Liberia.
This investment goes beyond the farmers, beyond the owners of the business, and beyond even the communities that will benefit,” says Erwin Knippenberg, member of the team. “It is an investment in the promise of a different kind of agriculture, a model of farming that is the epitome of sustainable: the environment, the workers, and, of course, the business. At Grain Coast, we are not only striving to run a successful farm, but also creating a farm that will inspire future agricultural entrepreneurs in Liberia, Africa and beyond. Together, let’s support smallholders to sustain and transform agricultural practices in Africa!”