Intofawar Farmers Cooperative


In February 1971 an initial meeting was held with a group of representative senior Kissi farmers, mainly heads of villages or sub groups, to discuss the establishment of a market co-operative. The objective of the market co- operative was to purchase at fair prices farmer's export crops: palm kernels, coffee- & cocoa beans, and rice and sell to farmer co-operative members, improved coffee-, cocoa- & oil palm seedlings, rice seed, fertilizers, pest and disease control chemicals.

The need for establishing a market co-operative was based on findings of our market survey. These showed that most commodity traders and middlemen in the Foya area, systematically under-weighted the commodities purchased by tem from the farmers. To achieve this, traders systematically used scales, which underweighted by 5 to 10%. This implied that farmers were underpaid by 5 to 10% less for the commodities they sold. Based on our findings, the Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. James Philips, instructed his staff to establish a market co-operative for Upper Lofa County with the exclusive rights to purchase all export commodities, including palm kernels, coffee- and coca beans. Another activity of the co-operative was to provide at cost price improved cocoa & coffee seedlings, rice seeds and farm inputs: fertilizers, & pest and disease control material.
During the second meeting of senior farmers in March 1971, the name Intofawar was selected for the Market Co-operative. Intofawar, means in a free translation of the local Kissi language: "Let us see". As image no 148 shows some 15 farmer leaders, each representing a specific village or sub group, met in front of the project headquarters.

The discussion was very intense as the farmers all agreed that they wanted to improve their situation and stop being dependent on the local traders for buying their crops. The participants indicated that actually the new Co-operative would be a formal extension of the informal cooperation which already existed between the different sub groups of the Kissi people. In spite of the fact that most farmers were illiterate, they readily accepted the need for a cooperative statue, bylaws and rules for the new Co-operative. The farmer representatives further decided to have some of their sons, who had recently graduated from the new high school in Foya, to join the staff of the Co-operative and to learn from the American Peace Corps volunteers how to run a Marketing Co-operative.

In view his previous experiences with co-operative development, van Santen was asked by the Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. James Philips to assist the Co-operative as an advisor, which request he gladly accepted.

Slideshow Intofawar

The rural economy
Lofa County 1970's
A pictorial story


Charles van Santen
December 2005