Liberia: Widows find fortune with farmed fish

| July 13, 2015

Download this story

Tebeh Kollie lost her husband two years ago. The 37-year-old says things were really hard on her and her two boys. She adds, “Family members were not helping us. We did everything to survive but it was difficult.”

Then she heard that some of her friends had learned how to raise fish. The Ministry of Agriculture and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization had trained some farmers in southeastern Liberia.

Mrs. Kollie says: “I joined my colleagues here and we have our small farm in this community. We [are] just starting it and hope it will continue to help us. Right now I can send my kids to school and prepare food for them.”

Before starting the fish farm, the widows had no way to make ends meet. But the income they now earn from raising fish helps them support their families.

They are the first group of widows to form and lead a cooperative fish farm in Liberia. The farm has 10 fish ponds, each holding 2,000 fish. The fish are ready for market in about three months.

Muna Wilson is a member of the widows’ co-operative. The 48-year-old mother of two says the widows want to be self-sufficient. They reinvest most of the money they earn through the farm. The members also share some of the money earned from sales. They take some of their fish to eat at home, or sell them in the market.

Mrs. Wilson says: “The fish are really good. People love buying them. Our kids are in school and things are getting better. All we need now is just more training, and then we can help other women in other communities.”

Jerry Smith is an expert in fish farming based in southeastern Liberia. He says the Ministry of Agriculture plans to help every Liberian farmer who wants to raise fish. He believes that fish farming has huge potential, not just in Liberia, but Africa-wide.

Naomi Miller is another co-op member. She says that, although the project is profitable, they still face challenges. Mrs. Miller says: “This is our livelihood for now and we are not taking it for granted. [Experts] must come and help us do this the best way. We have written all around for support but no one has come yet.”

Mrs. Kollie agrees they need more help. She says, “We need training on how to catch the bigger ones so that we don’t … mistakenly kill the smaller fish.” But, for now, the widows are happy that they are improving their livelihoods. They are enjoying having money to spend on household essentials, and that they can fill their children’s bellies with delicious, nutritious fish.

Photo credit: Farm Africa