The Deputy Mission Director for the United States Agency for International Development or USAID Food and Enterprise Development program to Liberia, Ms Barbara Dickerson, Tuesday, September 15, inaugurated a modern Soil Science Laboratory at the Booker Washington Institute or BWI in Kakata, Margibi County value approximately US$200,000.
According to a statement issued in Monrovia, BWI provided the building to house the facility, while USAID FED supported its renovation, including purchase and installation of state of the art laboratory equipment.
The facility will enable the institution to offer a National Diploma in Agriculture or NDA as well as enhance practical learning.
The NDA program is Liberia’s market driven 2-year vocational and agriculture studies to prepare students for careers in agriculture. It exercise offers core courses like crop cultivation, irrigation, soil science and animal husbandry as well as essential knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship, leadership and communication, respectively.
Besides BWI, the NDA will be offered at three community colleges in Nimba, Bassa and Lofa, respectively, among others. Already, Soil Science Labs similar to the BWI Lab have been established at each of the three community colleges.
Speaking during the dedication ceremony, the USAID Deputy Mission Director, Dickerson, noted that the US Government, through USAID FED, is making major investments in building the capacity of BWI and the three community colleges through the creation of Centers of Excellence at each the institutions equipped with labs, including computer laboratories with internet connectivity.
Ms. Dickerson added that the Centers will also train instructors and develop syllabi and lesson plans to be used in the NDA program. She added that the United States of America is committed to working with the Ministries of Education and of Youth and Sports to achieve the objectives of the Government of Liberia’s technical vocational education and training programs for young people as part of the government’s Agenda for Transformation.
Speaking on behalf of the Government of Liberia, the Assistant Minister for Technical and Vocational Education or TVET, at the Ministry of Education, Sekou Dukuly, thanked USAID through its Food and Enterprise Development Program for helping the Government of Liberia achieve yet another milestone in its quest to provide a sound agriculture training program for young people in the country.
He said as the Ministry strives to improve the educational system, programs such as the National Diploma in Agriculture will be critical to helping government achieves its goal of providing first rate vocational and technical training programs for the youths.
The USAID FED Program aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians through increased agricultural productivity and profitability in rice, cassava, vegetable and goat value chains. It is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado, respectively.
The statement noted that the exercise is Africa’s largest project under President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence to increasing food security by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.