Calls on GOL to invest more in Agriculture
A Liberian cleric has challenged the government to invest in the agricultural sector and be more practical, if its pro-poor agenda must be achieved. Nathaniel Sonody of the Life of Christ Ministry Inc., made the assertion recently in Bellemu, Bong County, when he served as the keynote speaker at the official launch of a new agriculture organization – Meni-Nina Farmers Incorporated.
He said if Liberia’s economy must be strong, then there is a need to empower young people that are involved in agriculture, most especially in the rural parts of the country.
“Agriculture has to be one of the central points that Liberians should focus on; it is not all about government, it requires collective effort,” he said.
According to him, if Liberia must rise from difficulties it has experienced over the years, every village, town, and city should go back to the soil, because if a nation does not have sufficiency in food production, its citizens will continue to live in hunger.
He said it is about time that Liberia emulates those countries that are economically stronger because of their huge scale in food production. He also said that these countries are not stronger because they were meant to be, but they got involved in agriculture to feed themselves.
He, however, lauded the CEO of the Meni-Nina Farmers Incorporated for his vision as a young man in the County. He said it is also important that other youths join hands in order to help food production in the County.
In brief remarks, the newly-confirmed Minister of Agriculture, Mogana Flomo, assured Meni-Nina Farmers Incorporated and the people of Bellemu, Bong County, of the Ministry’s support in food production. Minister Flomo also said his commitment is in line with the government’s pro-poor agenda.
Giving an overview of the organization, the CEO of Meni-Nina Farmers Inc., Michael Pewu, said his organization is a Liberian-owned business, which was established in April 2015, with an aim to create rural employment in the Liberian economy for young people.
According to him, Meni-Nina Farmers have been working through a network of over 1, 500 individual local farmers and farmer associations in Bong County, in the Panta, Zota, and Kpai Districts, including other communities in the County.
He noted that the network comprises of farmers who are involved with the cultivation of rice, adding value to lowland rice, Liberian “hot pepper” and other crops.
The young farmer said over the past few decades, Liberia struggled to increase domestic rice production, to meet its ever-growing demand. As a result, Liberia imports rice on a massive scale to satisfy domestic demands.
“The good news is that the Meni-Nina Farmers Inc. has gotten involved with the cultivation of commercial lowland rice that will be processed, packaged and sold on the local market, to increase domestic rice production and meet its ever-growing demand.”
Meanwhile the group, according to him, has created rural employment opportunities for most youths who are affected by the devastating living conditions, including many others who are left out of jobs as a result of high unemployment in the country.
Pewu also said his organization is going to contribute to maximizing income by helping farmers graduate from just hand-to-mouth survival to acquiring physical and financial assets, family healthcare, children’s education and building shelters.
He further recalled that over the years, agriculture has been one of the easiest ways to be self-employed in every country; it was based on that philosophy that he decided to engage in farming, to buttress the effort of the government, provide food and help create rural employment opportunities for most of the youths.
“Meni-Nina Farmers Inc. is gradually growing into a very successful rice aggregation and processing company which still maintains a small farming operation,” he said.
The group is also in the production of vegetables, cassava, and a Village Savings & Loan project. They have a modern rice mill with efficient drying, destining, polishing and parboiling functionalities. It has assisted many Liberian smallholder farmers in accessing key inputs, such as paddy rice, vegetable seeds, and tools.