MOA mobilizes farmers in Maryland
By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County
The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in collaboration with Smallholders Transformation Agribusiness Realization Project (STAR-P) has ended a day-long mobilization meeting with farmers in Maryland County, southeast Liberia.
The meeting was held at the Pleebo City Hall on Monday, April 25, 2022, bringing together farmers from all sectors of the county, including local authorities and some staff of the ministry.
The executive secretary to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Esther Saygelah Carngle said, the purpose of the forum is to inform farmers about the STAR-P that has been designed by the ministry.
She disclosed that the project has been designed to buttress efforts of local farmers, noting that over the period, many Liberians have had contrary perceptions about the role of the Ministry of Agriculture.
She explained the work of the ministry is not to make farms, but rather to provide technical knowledge to farmers on how to grow food and to lobby with partners for financial support for projects under the ministry.
She named some of the projects as the STAR-P which deals with oil palm production and RE-TRIP which focuses on rubber production.
“So I don’t want you to be discouraged about the criteria needed by the Ministry of Agriculture through the STAR-P projects in getting the matching grant. You know yourself, if we just take this money and put it in the hand of a leader, that person might leave from here because of family problem or when something happens to him, who can we ask, those are some of the reasons why we’re asking you to provide us all of those necessary documents to avoid future embarrassment”, Mrs. Carngle said.
“So, I am encouraging you on behalf of the ministry to hold together in order for individual part of his money that will be given to him, so it’s won’t be a problem because we at the ministry are trying to encourage you to watch your stomach if someone is watching your back.”
She urged farmers to see the project as an opportunity, noting that the grants will not be handed to individuals, but cooperatives through a banking system.
She noted that citizens in the southeast often complain that most opportunities go to their counterparts in Lofa County, and explained that this is so because farmers there accept terms and conditions set and are willing to produce and take the challenge in everything put before them.
“So, we are encouraging you to take the challenge in order to do more than the people of Lofa County”, she urged farmers of Maryland.
A representative from the Liberia Agriculture Commercialized Found (L.A.C.F) Rodell Jackson explained steps involved in getting matching grants from the Ministry through the STAR-P program, adding that in order to qualify, applicants should group themselves into corporative with an article of incorporation, bank account, business plans, business registration certificate, and cash flow, among others.
She stressed that in the business plan, which is a criterion for getting the matching grant, farmers through corporative will explain their major challenges and how can the matching grant help in solving some of those problems, including benefits to the community afterward.
One of the farmers, Lawrence D.Y Kyne lauded the Ministry of Agriculture through the STAR-P program for coming to identify with them and disclosed they got encouraged by the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP) out-grower process, but since the company encouraged them to go into out-growing, it has allegedly abounded the.
“Let me say to you since we got those palm seedlings and were promised fertilizers, including equipment by MOPP, we are yet to get it; currently as we speak, we have tried our best to continue despite the decline in the company’s support but some of the major challenges now is who to buy our produces,” he said.
He said their palms are spoiling because of lack of buyers adding, “So we are grateful to the Ministry of Agriculture through STAR-P projects for this urgent intervention and we hope the matching grant will be given in order for some of us to recover from loses and enlarge our various farms.” Editing by Jonathan Browne