The people of America through the USAID-Excellence in Higher Education for Liberians Development project have dedicated a multi-purpose soil science Lab at the Cuttington University in Bong County, central Liberia as part of commitment to improving the agricultural sector here.
The USAID-EHELD Agriculture Education Advisor at Cuttington University, Dr. Charles Mulbah said, with the University’s quest to improve agriculture in Liberia, Cuttington’s partners – Research Triangle Institute with support from USAID have commenced the process of providing an enabling environment to enable graduates produce agricultural products that will elevate Liberia.
He said it was against this background that Cuttington has steps in place to ensure that its graduates are prepared theoretically and practically to overcome challenges in the work sector.
Dr. Mulbah said to ensure that such preparation is successful, the College of Agriculture and Sustainable Development at CU in partnership with the USAID-EHELD has transformed one of its classrooms into a laboratory for diagnostic purposes to serve three major departments of the college, namely the Animal Science and Health, Natural Resource Management and the Soil Science Departments.
The USAID-EHELD Agriculture Education Advisor said students of these departments will conduct professional studies and practical activities to equip them for their agricultural contributions not only in Liberia but the world at large.
Dr. Charles Mulbah said with the support from the American people through the USAID-EHELD project, Cuttington’s dream is to ensure its agriculture students get fully prepared to a standard that would boost Liberia’s image internationally.
Speaking further, Cuttington’s President Dr. Henrique Tokpa, extended the CU family’s gratitude to the USAID-EHELD project, the Research Triangle Institute and partners for the establishment of the EHELD program.
Dr. Tokpa, who explained that Cuttington was a hard place to work, disclosed that the board of Trustees abroad has mandated him not to take agriculture lightly, stressing the need to improve the Cuttington farm for the feeding of the students and investment purpose.
According to him, Cuttington has an added momentum of economic power as a result of the establishment of the USAID-EHELD program besides the hundreds of thousands of dollars being infused into the economy of Bong County by the CU family.
He thanked all foreign partners and friends whom, in his words, came to the middle of nowhere just to assist youthful Liberians to become professional agriculturists for their Country and the world at large. Dr. Tokpa assured his administration’s fullest support in building the human resource capacity of Liberia despite the difficulties the university faces.
The Research Triangle Institute’s Director for Economic Growth and Home Office Analyst, Andrew Baird, described the crafters of the USAID-EHELD programs in Engineering and Agriculture as brilliant individuals, considering the significance of the two fields in post-conflict Liberia.
Mr. Baired acknowledged that what partners and stakeholders are trying to achieve at Cuttington, especially in Agriculture through the USAID-HELD program should be seen as crucial and another major backbone in the development of what will drive Liberia in this region in the future.
He described Cuttington University is a center of enlightenment which represents promise for the future not just for Bong County, but the entire Liberia and other countries beyond the borders of Liberia. Mr. Baird noted that agriculture played a crucial role in Liberia in the past but today it is weakened and needs reawakening.
He expressed satisfaction over the fact that a sizable number of Liberia’s brightest students have grown interested in the field of agriculture over the past three years of the USAID-HELD project, which according to him, is a small part in the development of agriculture at CU.
He said, realizing that there is an increase in the number of students attracted to agriculture, and now looking back at the challenges in recruiting students for the program during the commencement of the project, it is evident that students are changing their mentality about agriculture.
The RTI executive said the dedication of the multi-purpose laboratory at the CU was another key step geared at achieving positive results for the Liberian agriculture sector.
The Chief of Party of USAID-EHELD project, Yarkpazuo Kolva said by 2015 Cuttington University will have a complete Center of Excellence, but for now what is being done is the process of putting in place and shaping every component needed to have a successful completion of the center.
He said as part of the USAID-EHELD initiative at the Center of Excellence, the project worked with the partners’ staff and revised the curriculum which was endorsed by the board and is presently running with some eight future teachers currently pursuing advanced training abroad to teach for the project upon their return in 2015.
Mr. Kolva said the dedication of the laboratory was intended to put the students in a better position in ensuring that practice tests and studies are done for positive results.
He encouraged farmers and residents of Bong County to make use of the multi-purpose Soil Science Laboratory by reporting unusual experiences and things they may wish to improve on in their farming activities to technicians and professors at the Lab for advice and possible redress.
The USAID-EHELD boss wants students and farmers to use the Lab to acquire new knowledge and transformation in Liberia’s agriculture sector by doing research adding, that short courses are usually offered for community dwellers in an effort to improve the sector to assist them with hands-on knowledge in their fields.
He admonished the agriculture students to prepare themselves today to be able to face future challenges, indicating that such would place them in a better position in life.
Mr. Kolva encouraged the students to put in extra time for their studies since the USAID-EHELD project is an opportunity for young Liberians to become future employers and entrepreneurs.