Following years of capacity building of local farmers by USAID-FED in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, some rice importers here are now poised to purchase the nation’s stipple locally .
Currently, FED, a USAID sponsored project is assisting farmers in many parts of the country to provide both technical and material (agriculture inputs) support. These support are done in the areas of cassava, animal husbandry and rice production, including vegetable.
This was disclosed by Mr. K. Eric Yeasu, Rice value Chain manager at FED. He said, they are currently in six counties working on a large scale. With respect to supporting the rice value chain, USAID-FED has supported 50,000 beneficiaries from 2012 to present and there are plans to increase this to 60,000 by the end of the year.
“We provide technical way out for the farmers, teach them how to plant, how to increase their yields as well as do testing of the soil to know the type of nitrogen on the ground,” Mr. Yeasu said.
With the level of work being done, “we had meeting with some rice importers in the country on that. He said, two of the major importers in the country have agreed to buy rice locally once all is ready.” He added they will also make use of the ware house in these counties.
According to him, the ware houses will also help the rice importers to store rice locally. Not only that, but also will ease the burden of farmers transporting their produce to Monrovia and other nearby cities.
He said, as a way of helping the farmers, they have been providing equipment, diggers, motor bikes among others.
Due to the level of enthusiasm among the farmers, they (USAUD-FED) have decided to forge partnership for the importers to purchase rice from the local farmers. He said, there has been a gap and this is what they intend to bridge. The two major rice importers –SWAT and UCI, are said to be at the front of it.
When contacted SWAT, a senior manager told this paper that “they are in support of the partnership and would love to see such work move faster for the betterment of the country and its people. The official said “this chain of rice will help local farmer to integrate into our distribution network. We think this is good.”
At UCI, another official who did not want to be name said they were excited about this project and would support it.
Mr. Yeasu said, when completed, they will have a processing center where most of the work will be done for the local farmers.