Lukasu Residents Embrace Community Forestry Management Project
Monrovia, Liberia; 24 May 2023: The people in the remote Lukasu village in Lukambeh District -Lofa County have welcomed and embraced the Community-Based Forestry Management Project that is envisioned to replace the destructive slash-and-burn agricultural practices with sustainable commercial farming.
“Today is a dream come true for the people of Lukasu,” said the Lukasu Commissioner Hon. Anthony S. Armah Sr., last week during a visit to some of the project sites by the funding and implementing partners. “What you have taught us about lowland rice production, about how to care for and protect the (wild) animals is remarkable such that other villages around us are emulating what you are teaching us here.”
The project, implemented by UNDP and FAO in partnership with the Forestry Development Authority, and with funding from the Embassy of Sweden, will introduce improved higher-yielding crop varieties including rice and cocoa, and intensified crop production systems that will reduce deforestation because of shifting agriculture.
The Lukasu Commissioner said the community used to plant rice once a year, but they are now learning how to use the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which maximizes yields while minimizing the environmental impacts of rice farming, to produce three crops per year.
The project has prepared demonstration farms and rice and cocoa nurseries to grow and multiply improved seedlings enough for the targeted 1,000 farmers.
Some 500 farmers will grow the Nerica lowland rice on eight (8) acres of land using the intensification method producing at least two crops in a year. The Nerica rice matures fast and can be harvested within 4 months period.
It is estimated that farmers can harvest 32 metric tons of paddy in each cropping season, thus harvesting a total of 64 tons in two seasons amounting to 128 tons per year with an estimated value of about US$49,140. Using traditional farming methods, farmers harvest between 1 and 2 tons per acre.
Another 500 farmers will grow cocoa whose estimated annual income when the crop matures in four years’ time is US$64,450. These farmers will intercrop the cocoa with fast-maturing crops such as plantain, banana, and pigeon peas to provide both food and income as they wait for the cocoa to mature.
The agricultural components of the project are being implemented by the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP) and the Liberia Cocoa Corporation.
Speaking during the visit, Mr. Jenkins Flahwar, the Program Officer, Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources at the Swedish Embassy commended the Lukasu community for their active participation in the project and the involvement of women.
“I am pleased to see the strong representation of women in this project because all our programmes require that women are included and participate actively,” said Jenkins promising to monitor the project’s progress and return to see the impacts the project will have in the people’s lives.
The project, through the Society for the Conservation of Nature, has also recruited and trained Eco Guards to help patrol the Gola Forest National Park and the proposed Foya protected area.
These eco guards were trained and will be equipped with camera traps, tablets, and tents among other assorted items to aid them to conduct research and biomonitoring as well protect the forest from rt illegal activities such as poaching.
To ensure their self-reliance, the eco guards, (some of whom used to be hunters), receive a monthly stipend and a lumpsum token at the end of one year of service to support them to establish alternative livelihood activities.
They will further be linked to other UNDP interventions such as the business start-up grant competition to build their capacity to identify and develop viable enterprises.-Press release