I had been following the page of Marion K. Conteh for some time when we finally connected. I’d been admiring her farm, and I was especially curious about her value-added activities. So, when she agreed to share her story with us, it was an opportunity I could not let go.

Marion K. Conteh: A Success Story in Sierra Leonean Agriculture

Marion’s farm is located in Sierra Leone, comprising three separate acres of land. Managing these separate plots presents its own challenges, but Marion has developed innovative strategies to overcome them, as we will explore later.

It has ceased to surprise me to find successful farmers with diplomas and backgrounds in fields other than agriculture. Marion fits this mold perfectly with her diploma in Business Administration. If you think that has nothing to do with agriculture, think again. Agriculture is a business, just like any restaurant, mechanical shop, or law firm. A farm has expenses and needs revenue to thrive. I was curious to know how Marion transitioned from a business diploma to running her own farm.

“Farming has always been part of my life,” Marion explains. “My father was a gardener, and whenever he found himself with an empty piece of land, he would plant something—vegetables, trees, flowers, whatever suited him best. Growing up, I knew I could make agriculture a career by venturing into it on a large scale.”

Marion started her farming journey in 2019 by renting an acre of land. Since then, her operation has grown to encompass three acres. Currently, she cultivates five different crops: rice, groundnut, cassava, sweet potato, and corn (maize). She dedicates over an acre each to cassava and sweet potatoes, while the third acre is divided among the other three crops. To maximize land use and yield, she employs both intercropping and crop rotation techniques, which we will delve into in future posts.

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With the current limits of three acres, Marion has also ventured into value-added activities, creating Peanut Paste from her groundnuts. We will learn more about this in detail in an upcoming post, where Marion will discuss how she started, the challenges she faced, and more.

Marion K. Conteh A Success Story in Sierra Leonean Agriculture 2024

Another significant aspect of Marion’s activities is her engagement on social media. She runs her page, Marion K. Conteh Farm Girl, where she posts updates about her farm, shares tips for other farmers, and showcases her products. Managing a page with a substantial following requires a considerable amount of time, and I was eager to learn how she balances this with her farming duties. We will explore the impact and benefits of social media for farmers in a later post.

Groundnuts are a major crop in Marion’s portfolio and the key ingredient in her value-added product—Peanut Paste. Marion began making Peanut Paste in 2022, a product more commonly known as peanut butter. Despite its name, groundnuts (or peanuts) are not botanically nuts but legumes, related to beans, lentils, and peas.

The history of peanut butter dates back to ancient civilizations, with the Incas and Aztecs being among the first to grind roasted peanuts into a paste. The modern version of peanut butter was patented in 1884 by Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Quebec, Canada. Its popularity soared due to its nutritional value and recommendations by doctors as a protein substitute for people with poor teeth.

When I asked Marion why she chose to produce peanut butter from her groundnuts rather than other products from her sweet potatoes or cassava, her answer was simple: “The demand was high,” she said. This demand-driven approach is a cornerstone of successful business strategy.

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Marion’s Peanut Paste production is impressive, with her making 50–80 bottles per month manually. Despite sometimes needing to buy groundnuts from other producers to meet demand, this high demand is a positive challenge. However, she acknowledges the need for investment in machinery to increase production and ensure a consistent supply of materials. “I could produce more, and I am working towards that. To get to that level, I need to invest in some machines and fully control all supplies. This requires an investment I cannot do right now, but soon,” Marion explains.

Marion K. Conteh A Success Story in Sierra Leonean Agriculture peanut production

Marion K. Conteh’s story is a testament to the power of passion, strategic thinking, and adaptability in agriculture. Stay tuned for more insights into her innovative farming practices and value-added ventures in our upcoming posts.

Article Credit: Agri Project Africa

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