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Farmers hail EU-funded integrated rice-fish farming technology

Beneficiary farmer groups of the EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice Fish Farming System (IRFFS) Project have hailed the project’s technology after recording high yields. 

One farmer, Augustine Moore, said that he has recorded three harvests per year- equivalent to 5 tons per hectare, since the adoption of IRFFS technology. 

Moore told journalists touring the project’s beneficiary farms in Margibi County over the weekend. 

The tour led by the DeSIRA-IRFFS Project Coordinator, Dr. Inoussa Akintayo, saw beneficiaries narrate their adoption journey of the IRRFS technology to journalists.

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Additionally, the communication and visibility visit allowed participating journalists to witness other activities that the EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice Fish Farming System Project team is carrying out to meet its objectives. 

Alfred Kollie, Assistant Farm Manager at the Karsor Farm, another beneficiary farm of the EU-funded IRFFS project, said that his team has received quality training on the IRFFS technology since the project intervened in the county.

“Before, we were growing only fish, but we adopted this technology after assessing the benefits that it brings. The project team guided us during the construction of the first set of IRFFS ponds.”

“Later, we decided to increase the number of IRFF ponds after we saw that the technology could change the course of our operations for the better,” said Mr. Kollie.

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Like Moore and Kollie, agriculture remains the primary source of income for approximately 80 percent of the country’s population, the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LIGIS) revealed.

Despite the number of people that are involved in the sector, agriculture productivity has reportedly been low.

Climate change, low-performing farm inputs, poor extension services delivery, and limited farm-to-market linkages are a few contributing factors.  

As part of efforts to address the low food productivity in the country, the Project Communication Specialist Mr. George A. Harris said the European Union’s initiative aims to improve food and nutritional security. He said it aims to increase farmers’ income by employing a climate-smart approach that keeps the environment intact while producing food.

“The IRFFS project aims to improve food and nutrition security by transforming low-yielding, climate-risky traditional rice-fish production systems into more climate-resilient, high-yielding, resource-use-efficient systems in Liberia.” 

“With the IRFFS technology, farmers can utilize the lowland to produce food while keeping our environment intact as well,” said Harris.   

Harris further revealed that 174 youths and 170 Women-Head-Homes (WHH) have adopted the integrated rice-fish technology introduced across the project counties – Gparpolu, Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Maryland, and Gbarpolu counties.  

Also explaining to journalists other innovations of the EU-funded project, the Agro-Mechanic and Processing Specialist of the project, Dr. Ahouansou Roger said that the project has introduced a variety of labor-saving devices to reduce farmers’ workload and accelerate their productivity. 

He also disclosed that plans are underway to train farmers on the operations and maintenance of the locally fabricated equipment that the DeSIRA-IRFFS Project is introducing. 

Power tillers, moldboard plows, disk ploughs, rakes, driving seats, drum seeders, upland seeders, and rice harvesters were a few farm machines seen at the project’s headquarters in Suakoko Bong County. 

Earlier, the Project Coordinator/AfricaRice Country Representative Dr. Inoussa Akintayo said his team’s efforts are synergies of efforts directed at curbing the impact of climate change on food production. 

He added that the adoption of the IRFFS technology, especially by women and youth is welcoming. 

He stressed that climate-smart farming methods like the IRFFS technology should be encouraged among farming communities to discourage other activities that could harm the environment.   

 “We are preparing to improve our living conditions today, but we should also think about the next generation,” said Dr. Akintayo. “Today we have the forest, but the next generation may suffer when we poorly manage what we have now.” 

Multi-national organizations AfricaRice and WorldFish are implementing the initiative in partnership with national institutions which include the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA).

The project target groups are the integrated rice-fish farmers who benefit through access to research, innovations, and technologies that will improve the sustainability and productivity of their businesses.

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