The Founder and Senior Managing Partner of FABRAR Liberia Incorporated, Madam Jeanine Cooper, urges graduates of the Williams R. Tolbert College of Agriculture & Forestry at the University of Liberia, to keep in mind society will look up to them, for not just food production, but as anchors of Liberia’s development.
She says graduates can help end food insecurity in Liberia by doing something as simple as “planting at least a seed every year.” She also challenges them to be creative and make use of existing resources in order to contribute to food production and the preservation of Liberia’s forest.
“You are the lucky generation that starts your career with technology literally at your fingertips. With your cell phone, you are part of the 81 % of Liberians who have such access; part of the 75% of Liberians who can access the Internet,” she reminds the graduates, and adds; “You have the knowledge, the resources and technology is here to help you. Make new product at least once a year.”
Addressing graduates of the College of Agriculture and Forestry Thursday, 6 December in continuation of the University of Liberia 99th Commencement Convocation ongoing at the Fendall Campus outside Monrovia, Madam Cooper urges them to see the proliferation of new products on the Liberian market as an opportunity to demonstrate their value as technicians in the areas of Agriculture and Forest, noting “there are many opportunities in food production, preservation and forest management that young Liberians can take advantage of.”
The keynote speaker says she believes there are a lot of technological advances in the 21st Century that agriculture and forest technicians can hinge on to reduce the food insecurity in Liberia and keep the country green, emphasizing that “Liberians are creative people who could use social media such as Facebook to launch a successful business.”
“Class of 2018, instead of listening to all the different juicy stories of how bad things are, think about the opportunities that you have because you are the greatest generation of Liberians,” Ms. Cooper continues to thunderous applause. “Liberians have never let challenges define them. If you don’t believe me, think back a few years, when you were just beginning your university journey.”
She stresses the graduates should be encouraged by the demand for agricultural products on the urban markets in Liberia and get involved with the production of goods and services in the areas of Agriculture and Forestry.
The Founder of FABRAR Liberia Incorporated calls on individuals with agricultural skills to help in the production of healthy and green products.
“Your social networks of family and friends, extended family and friends of friends–these people will help you to identify and capitalize on opportunities,” she directs the graduates, saying “Some will advise you and some will pay. They will help you. Liberians are endowed with helpful enablers which is a spirit of invincibility and pride.”
The College awarded undergraduate degrees to 458 students, including 315 in General Agriculture, 93 in General Forestry, 43 in Agronomy and seven in Home Science and Community Development.
The valedictorian of the William R. Tolbert College of Agriculture and Forestry calls for robust improvements in the quality of education at all levels in Liberia.Mr. Spencer Keifa Kamara underscores the importance of improving the faculty at the University of Liberia if the University is to achieve its dream to be among the top twenty universities in West Africa within seven years.
He charges the University to stick to and perfect its educational policies and create a good learning atmosphere by embracing research and development and opening a central research lab at the Fendall Campus, adding, “The need for more Faculty with PhDs and improved salary are cardinal.”
The Dean of the William R. Tolbert College of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Moses Zinnah, outlines several accomplishments of the college over the last year and thanks the Ministry of Agriculture and the African Development Bank (AFDP) for constructing a modern academic complex, while recognizing the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for providing internship training opportunities in food safety and quality control at its National Standard Laboratories for students in the Department of Home Science and Community Development, and lauds the Regional Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) for providing eight graduates teaching Assistantship (GTA) fellowships for faculty members in the College of Agriculture & Forestry to pursue their PhD degrees in various agricultural disciplines in selected highly rated African Universities.
He also hopes that the University of Liberia would start graduate programs in Agronomy, Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Agricultural and Extension Education, Animal Science and Agriculture Engineering by 2021.
University of Liberia President, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, describes the College as “The Bread Basket College” and calls on the graduates to provide food for Liberians, protect the country’s forest, and prevent climate change.
“Our country is blessed with water, sunshine, and land,” said Dr. Weeks said in her routine greetings to graduates and guests attending the graduation. “Make use of these resources and feed every Liberian and keep our country green.”
The William Richard Tolbert College of Agriculture is an offshoot of a partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization over fifty years ago.
The College was opened at the university in 1962 and it has since been making a significant impact in producing technicians in the fields of Agriculture and Forestry.
–Editing by Jonathan Browne