By George Harris
Access to markets still remains a major challenge for local farmers across the country. However, with the launch of the Zero Hunger Strategic Review Report (ZHSRR) that aims to promote the World Food Program’s (WFP) Home Grown School Feeding Program (HGSFP), local farmers could benefit by selling their produce to the program.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf launched the ZHSRR in Monrovia on Tuesday, May 16. The report provides a roadmap for Liberia to end hunger by 2030 under the United Nations mandate.
The WFP- HGSFP will provide market opportunities for farmers to sell their produce such as vegetables and tuber crops (cassava and eddoes) to the school feeding programs in the fifteen counties to improve food and nutrition security.
“The program will use food that is locally grown by smallholder farmers to feed kids in schools in order to improve nutrition, increase school enrollment, as well as promote inclusive agricultural growth,” said President Sirleaf.
She said the program will boost farm production across the country because it has the potential to attract increased market opportunities for smallholder farmers.
The President urged Liberians to invest in agriculture to enable government to reduce food importation.
“We must be decisive about reducing the US$250 million spent annually on the importation of food by making more investments in agriculture,” she added.
President Sirleaf also called on the Ministry of Agriculture to improve on extension services so that farmers can increase local production.
Dr. Amos Sawyer, who heads the ZHSRR, described the report as a strategic companion that will help in achieving zero hunger and build the capacity of local farmers.
“The Strategic Review Report is a key companion of the quest to achieving food security. It is an aspiration that will result to healthy and productive school going children,” said Dr. Sawyer
“The review sought to analyze food security and nutrition situation that can impact policies, programs to improve food and nutrition security as well as identify gaps in food production for prompt action.”
The process was gathered from research conducted from public, private, and non-governmental entities, and consultations with smallholder farmers across the country, Dr. Sawyer stated.
WFP Deputy Director of Policy and Program, Steven Were Omamo, said considering food insecurity that is currently facing the world, there is a need for prompt action to end hunger.
“The good news is that in many ways the world is more prepared to tackle hunger and food insecurity than at any time in recent history. Through Sustainable Development Goal 2 of the 2030 Agenda, governments and their partners are committed to combining efforts and investments toward eradicating hunger, one of the most devastating forms of human suffering and misery,” he said.
“Since 2008, Liberia has been implementing several policies and strategies for food security and nutrition that foreshadowed the Zero Hunger Agenda. I reckon that President Sirleaf took on these vital roles and responsibilities because they resonated with many of the goals her government was already trying to achieve,” WFP Deputy Director Omamo said.