The African Agriculture Trade and Investment Fund has sent a consultant to Sierra Leone to assess the impact of Ebola on Balmed´s operations as well as its sourcing ability of produce for the upcoming trading cycle. Balmed has signed a trade finance agreement with AATIF in 2013 which has been put on hold due to Ebola and the State of Emergency in Sierra Leone. Balmed is looking forward to continue the trading activities, once the State of Emergency has been lifted.
The Ebola crisis has had a tremendous impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Especially vulnerable groups like widows, elderly and disabled people are the worst affected victims of the crisis. Therefore Balmed started an initiative to support disabled people in its operational areas who have lost relatives due to Ebola. The focus group are widows with children.
The EU funded project, Agriculture for Development, A4D is actively supporting Balmed in its rehabilitation and outplanting activities in the Eastern Provinces of Sierra Leone. The project provided technical assitance and inputs for Balmed´s nursery as well as for the distribution of cocoa seedlings to smallholder farmers in the project areas. A total of 335.000 cocoa seedlings have been nursed and outplanted on 300 hectare GPS surveyed farmland.
The Sierra Leone based company Microfinance Trust Ltd. has visited Balmed cocoa farmers to work out possible fields of collaboration in the agriculture sector. The project aims to provide loans to cocoa farmers to rehabilitate old and unproductive farms in order to increase quality and quantity and therefore the income of cocoa farmers.