As part of its quest to stamp out hunger in Liberia and enable farmers to engage in sustainable agriculture activities, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently embarked on the distribution of the basic farming inputs to over two thousand vulnerable household farmers in Bong County.
Farmers were selected from three of Bong County’s 12 districts, through a joint process involving the Ministries of Agriculture and Internal Affairs, FAO and its local partners. Catalyst is being provided seed rice, fertilizer, including integrated pest management (IPM) inputs.
The National Project Coordinator of the European Commission (EC) food facility project in Liberia, John Emmanuel Peavey, speaking at one of the FAO distribution sites in Panta District, emphasized that farmers were not just being provided the farming inputs, but also training in agriculture best practices to increase their knowledge and skills and farming strategy as a means of enhancing productivity for sustainable livelihood.
The EC food facility project coordinator indicated that farmers benefiting from the agriculture inputs were those in swamp rice production, as well as upland farming. Swamp rice farmers received the urea fertilizer to combat worms and other insects that destroy crops before maturity.
Apart from the two thousand vulnerable farmers directly benefiting from rice seed, fertilizer and the integrated pest management input, six farmer groups were also being supported to carry out processing and production under the purchase for progress (PFORP) program, managed by the World Food Program(WFP).
Under the joint food security project funded by European Union, according to Mr. Paivey, WFP is responsible to create the enabling marketer for the local farmers, through the purchase of their rice to be used for its school feeding program across the country instead of importing its food supply from outside the country.
The scheme is intended to empower the local farmers to actively engage the soil and see it as basic source of earning revenues to sustain their individual families and trash out the dependency attitude.
Meanwhile, the UNDP is also involved with the construction of farm to market roads and storage facilities for farm groups involved with the purchase for progress initiative.
The food facility project coordinator asserted that the FAO and its partners were resolved to collaboratively work with the farmers to ensure that the food security situation in the country was improved at a highly considerable level.
He encouraged the rural farmers to consider the initiative as a significant step towards changing the economic situation from challenging condition to a more improved state.
Nationally, the 6 million EC funded joint food security project implemented by the FAO, UNDP, WFP and the Ministry of Agriculture is targeting 16,000 farmers in Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, Montserrado, as well as Margibi , Grand Bassa and Bomi counties mainly involved with rice and vegetable production.