Africa Rice Begins Training on Machinery Operations for Farmers

Farmers learning how to operate power tiller to reduce more labor.

Africa Rice Begins Training on Machinery Operations for Farmers

Farmers in Margibi County have commenced a one-week training on farm machinery operation.  The training, which started on Thursday, December 2, 2021 in the Kaisaryan Village lower Margibi County, is one of the activities designed under the EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Fish Farming System (IRFFS) project to strengthen food and nutrition security in Liberia. 

Twenty farmers from across Margibi are participating in the week-long training. According to the Agro-processing and Mechanization Expert at AfricaRice, Dr. Roger Ahouansou, the training focuses on imparting farmers with knowledge on the usage of small-scale farming machinery.

“AfricaRice wants to empower the farmers, build the capacity on how to use land preparation equipment and post-harvest equipment, such as the rice mill, the rice thresher. All of these are meant to enhance the farmers’ capacity that will increase production, therefore, strengthening food and nutrition security,” he said.

Also, responding to a question about the selection of farmers, Dr. Ahouansou said to journalists that Africa Rice selected farmers based on their performance records under the EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Farming System (IRFFS) project. 

“We chose the best performing farmers. We have our focal person in each of the implementing counties, and he was helpful in the selection process,” he said.  

The Country Representative of AfricaRice, Dr. Inoussa Akintayo, has said the introduction of farm machinery helps reduce the workload of household farmers during the land preparation phase and post-harvest phase of their production.  He added that the machines will ensure efficiency and make the integrated rice-fish farming system attractive to the younger generation. 

“Students from the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) are also participating in this training,” said Dr. Akintayo. “It is good news for the nation. We should encourage young people by showing them the new technology. That is what I mean by [making] agriculture attractive for the coming generation.”       

Additionally, Dr. Akintayo added that the EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Farming System (IRFFS) project is part of efforts to support the Liberian government's quest to have farmers sustainably utilize the lowland.

“The focus on upland rice production is harmful to the environment because it encourages deforestation, and the yield is very low. So the Government is encouraging them to go to lowland production. The EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Farming System is facilitating this transition by building the capacity of household farmers,” he said.   

The EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Fish Farming System project is a three-year project (2020-2021). The project is implemented by Africa Rice, World Fish in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), National Aquaculture and Fisheries Authority (NaFAA), and Central for Agricultural Research Institute (CARI).

The IRFFS project aims to improve food and nutrition security by transforming low-yielding, climate-risky traditional rice-fish production systems into more climate-resilient, high-yielding, resource-use-efficient systems in Liberia.  It is being implemented in five counties – Gbarpolu, Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Margibi, and River Gee counties.  

The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) is a pan-African Center of Excellence for rice research, development, and capacity building. It contributes to reducing poverty, achieving food and nutrition security, and improving the livelihoods of farmers and other rice value-chain actors in Africa by increasing the productivity and profitability of rice-based agri-food systems while ensuring the sustainability of natural resources. 

AfricaRice is one of 15 international agricultural research centers of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. It is also an intergovernmental association of African member countries. 

AfricaRice’s strength lies in its locally-tailored rice research-for-development capacity with on-the-ground knowledge and networks. The Center has led groundbreaking work on many fronts that is transforming the lives of millions of rural households in Africa. It has contributed significantly to boosting Africa’s rice sector through improved seeds, cropping practices, processing technologies, policy advice, and capacity development.

It was established under the name “West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA)” by 11 African countries and officially began operating in 1971. 

Known as AfricaRice since 2009, it’s membership comprises 28 African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Uganda.