At least 50 persons have undergone a 3-day leadership training workshop, aimed at empowering women and youths with basic leadership skills in the agricultural sector of Liberia.
The workshop which was held at the Central Agriculture Reseach Institute(CARI) in Swakoko, Bong County recently, was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture(MoA), through support from the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP-Liberia).
It brought together participants from Lofa, Bong and Mar-Gibi Counties, comprising women leaders from farmer’s organizations, students from the University of Liberia and the Cuttington University College and policymakers.
The theme of the workshop was: “Empowering Women and Youth in the Agricultural Sector for Enhanced Productivity.”
Some distinguished personalities in the agricultural sector, including the Assistant Minister for Planning and Development at the MoA, Ousman Tall; the National Project Coordinator of WAAPP-Liberia, Cyrus Saygbe; and MoA’s Communication Specialist, Gertrude Francis Deshield among other persons made presentations at the training workshop.
Topics deliberated upon were: institutional capacity building for the agriculture sector, assertive communication: a key to leadership success; reducing the gender gap in agricultural extension and advisory service; Overview of MoA gender strategy ; engaging youths in agriculture and others.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer last Thursday during the workshop, the Gender Focus Person at the MoA, Cheryl Williams stated that the leadership training was intended to enlighten women and youths on their participation in Liberia’s agricultural sector.
“This workshop is the first phase meant to sensitize women and youth in the country to engage in agriculture with profound leadership knowledge to enhance the nation’s food security. The sector is dominated by small scale farmers, a majority of whom are women. At the end of the workshop it is expected that the participants would access the leadership skills to control key resources and other agricultural services,” she explained.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop in CARI on Wednesday, Assistant Minister for Planning and Development at the MoA, Ousman Tall, underscored the need for youth to engage in agriculture to reduce poverty in their lives.
He said in order for the country to solve the problem of labor in the sector, young people must be willing to venture in to agriculture.
For his part, the national project coordinator for WAAPP-Liberia, Cyrus Saygbe said that the WAAPP-Liberia project was designed to provide opportunities for women and youth in the sector to improve their lives.
He disclosed that plans are underway for young people to benefit from scholarships in agriculture at various universities and institutions in Liberia.
He used the occasion to call on the workshop’s participants to make use of the skills acquired from the training.
In her presentation, the communication specialist of the MoA, Gertrude Francis Deshield said that women in rural Liberia have been marginalized by their male counterparts when it comes to communication.
“Many times our culture does not allow rural women in on decision making processes. This seriously affects the lives of women, mainly those engaged in farming, as they are greatly contributing to their homes,” she stated.
She said that if women will succeed at communicating, they must be truthful and bold when they speak.
Anita K. Rennie, the coordinator for the Gender Ministry in Bong County, also spoke at the workshop. She called on women to play a leadership role in reporting gender violence in their communities.