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BAN ON BUSH MEAT LEAVES MARKETEERS IN DEBT CRISIS

BY: ALPHA DAFFAE SENKPENI

The absence of dry bush meat has now seen the presence of dry chicken on the local market

Selling bush meat at the Rally Time Market in Monrovia has been the source of livelihood for Mary Varnie until the Liberian government imposed a ban on the trade last year, as means of preventing the spread of the Ebola virus disease.

Mary’s profits before the Ebola outbreak were impressive. Once business was good, she could earned about LD$4,000 (about US$50) profit monthly and also ordered thousands of dollar worth of goods from her suppliers.

She could also pay her debts on time and make more orders with the hope that customers will make demands frequently. And they did! Many of her customers ran restaurants and cook shops in Monrovia but when the government installed the ban, they were gone. Eventually, her business crumbled after all her stock of dry meat was left to rout.

Now, Mary and 25 other women who sold dry bush meat are struggling to cope without the business, although they are salvaging reminisce of their collapsed bush meat market.

“Right now, I’m out of business because of the Ebola virus,” Mary said. “My children are not going to school right now because my whole business spoiled and I lost more than 70,000 Liberian Dollars.”

Mary Varnie and her fellow marketers say they are in deep trouble with their suppliers and are also struggling to adjust to new trades. They had ordered huge stock pile of bush meat from their suppliers just before the outbreak of the virus which led to the eventual ban on the sale of all bush meat in the country. According to the marketers, some of their creditors are reasoning and are giving time to pay back but others are pressuring them for the debts. They are now pretty much concern about empowerment to get back on track with business.

Mariama Kamara is a widow with five children; she too is faced with the challenge of paying back huge debts. She has now switched from selling dry bush meat to selling variety of cooking oil and other food stuff.

“We are now on sell-pay… because we lost all our business money and now we just have to do something to send our children to school,” explained Mariama. Mariama owes over LD$50,000 dollars and she lost over LD$100,000 in goods.

Elizabeth Wrotto, 60, is also affected by the ban on the sale of bush meat having lost over LD$20,000. She still has to pay back thousands of dollars and at the same time burden with catering to her four children.

In December last year, UNDP opted to aid the marketers as a means of alleviating their family responsibility during Christmas season which is often compounded with lots of expenses, so a purse of US$100 was given to each of the dry bush meat traders at the Rally Time Market. But it now appears that all the bush meat sellers are still looking up to UNDP for more interventions.

“We are now on sell-pay… because we lost all our business money and now we just have to do something to send our children to school,” explained Mariama. Mariama owes over LD$50,000 dollars and she lost over LD$100,000 in goods.

Elizabeth Wrotto, 60, is also affected by the ban on the sale of bush meat having lost over LD$20,000. She still has to pay back thousands of dollars and at the same time burden with catering to her four children.

In December last year, UNDP opted to aid the marketers as a means of alleviating their family responsibility during Christmas season which is often compounded with lots of expenses, so a purse of US$100 was given to each of the dry bush meat traders at the Rally Time Market. But it now appears that all the bush meat sellers are still looking up to UNDP for more interventions.

“UNDP promised to come back to help us, so we praying for them to come and help us,” Elizabeth said. Another marketer, Hawa Sesay, has been selling dry bush meat for over ten years but now she says all of them are struggling to cope with life and to pay back the huge debts they have incurred due to the Ebola outbreak.

Rally Time Market Superintendent, Dede Zubah has also added her voice to the under-pressured marketers to request the intervention of UNDP or other organizations to help empower the bush meat sellers.

She said: “We as authority are asking the UN or UNDP to help us because this is the only way we can help these women to get back on their feet.”

Market Superintendent Zubah stressed that the women are completely out of business while they are been pressured to pay huge debts.

Bush meat sale is still ban on the Liberian market while those involve with the trade are being sharply hit by all of the economic impact especially market women like the ones at Rally Time Market. And comments gathered from those at Rally Time conclude that many other dry bush meat sellers are also facing their own challenges at various markets across the country.

Liberia Market Association President, Lusu Sloh ignored attempts by Local voices Liberia to find her administration’s plans to solicit assistance for those affected. Although, Rally Time Market Superintendent Dede Zubah says it was Lusu’s ingenuity that prompted the UNDP’s help in December 2015.

 

 

 

 

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