Rice processing still remains a serious challenge for farmers in the Bong Mines community, Fuamah District, Lower Bong County, despite the existence of current rice processing facilities in the community. The few rice milling centers that operate there are said to be not very functional.
But, with assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), through the Smallholder Farmers Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Agriculture Project (STAR-P) to a private farmer, James Nyumah, farmers of the Bong Mines community and surrounding villages now have the unique opportunity to access a new rice processing center to promote income opportunities.
It can be recalled that the MOA/STAR-P project, which is funded by the World Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), recently donated different kinds of farm machinery to farmer Nyumah and several other beneficiaries to enhance their capacities.
Farmer Nyumah received a rice mill with all of its accessories to operate in Bong Mines.
Prior to the civil war, the Germans operated the Bong Mining Company which provided employment for many people. But since the end of the war and despite the resumption of mining activities by the China Union iron company, unemployment still remains high in the district. The global drop in the price of iron ore on the world market caused the activities of China Union to become dormant.
As a result many of the citizens in the district have resorted to agriculture to support their families.
Farmer Nyumah told this newspaper that the economic situation of the people in the district is very appalling.
He said that many of the residents are engaged in crop production, but are lacking the necessary support to expand in order for them to adequately support their families.
“Since then, we have resolved to make a farm with our merger resources. There is no job for most of us, except by making use of the soil,” he stated.
Nyumah said that rice processing is a serious challenge for the farmers.
According to him, he has completed the construction of a warehouse that will host the rice mill that has been donated by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“I recently received a rice mill from the Ministry to enhance processing opportunities within the community. I have completed the warehouse and the mill will soon be installed there. The mill is a fulfillment of promises made by the minister of agriculture sometime last year, when she visited my farm,” he explained.
He said he is hoping that the mill will help alleviate the constraints that the farmers are currently facing.
However, Farmer Nymah did not fail to mention some of the challenges that confront his processing initiative.
He named the lack of electricity supply and lack of access to loans as some of the obstacles that impede his operations.
Nyumah has therefore appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture to include him into her grants assistance program in order to overcome some of his challenges.
“I am thankful to the Ministry for the machine, but I would like to be assisted with a generator and loan to promote the processing opportunity of the farmers,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Farmer Nyumah further told this newspaper that his rice farming project in the district is currently providing income opportunities for many of the citizens.
He said he has cultivated approximately more than 200 acres of land with rice where the residents worked to earn money daily to support their families.
According to him the rice, when harvested, will be processed and sold within the community markets at an affordable price.
Nyumah, however, lamented that Liberia continues to import more rice instead of prioritizing more support for domestic production.
“All the money the country is spending for rice imports could be used to support farmers to produce more rice. We can feed ourselves, provided the government can increase support toward farmers,” Nyumah emphatically stated.
He underscored the need for the government to support his rice farm project with mechanized equipment to improve productivity.
Meanwhile, farmers in the district have praised Nyumah for his farming initiative and have called on the government to support him, so that they can have the opportunity to improve their living conditions.