More than 840 smallholder farmers the Liberia Agri-business Development Activity (LADA) selected from Bong, Nimba, Lofa and Montserrado counties have acquired new agricultural skills that will enhance their productivity in farming to improve the country’s food security.
The US$20 million agriculture project is funded by the United States government under the Feed the Future Global Food Security Initiative.
LADA conducted the training simultaneously in the four counties from December 14-20.
The capacities of the farmers were built in basic business management skills, the utilization of agro-inputs and post-harvest handling methods for assorted crops, including rice, cassava and vegetables.
At the close of the training workshop on Tuesday, December 20, held at a farming cluster in Careysburg District, LADA’s Montserrado County Coordinator Julius Saye Kehnel said the entity has come to work with local farmers by building their capacities to do farming as a business that can transform their living conditions and to increase food production in the targeted counties.
“The project shall endeavor to support farmers within the next four years in rice, vegetables and cassava as well as cocoa and aquaculture to enhance food production. We are building the capacities of agro-dealers, processors and aggregators through training and access to finance so that they can reach local farmers with needed services to overcome constraints in farming,” Mr. Kehnel told the participants.
According to him, the 840 farmers were selected from various farming organizations and trained with the hope that they can teach other farmers in the farming communities.
“We urge you not to sit on the skills acquired, but to go and teach other farmers. By doing so, your farming system will become improved to generate better incomes,” he told the farmers.
Kehnel added that post-harvest losses are one of the constraints greatly affecting the incomes of most smallholder farmers. For that, he said his institution is providing information to farmers on how to handle such production challenges and creating storage facilities to increase market opportunities.
Meanwhile, farmers who spoke to the Daily Observer at the end of the training, expressed gratitude to LADA, and expressed the need for more training in the near future.
“This training is so rewarding, especially for women farmers as many of us are lacking skills to increase food production. We want LADA and other partners to continue to build our capacities so that we can fully support our respective families,” said Malad Womie, a woman farmer in Careysburg District.
The training was held with the goal to increase the income of smallholder farmers through increased private sector investments in the Liberian agribusiness sector.
LADA seeks to accomplish this goal by expanding smallholder farmers’ access to and use of agricultural inputs and post-harvest handling, processing, packaging and marketing services. The activity also works to catalyze increased private sector investments and commercial finance to the agribusiness sector and expand commercially sustainable linkages between consumers, producers and post-harvest enterprises.
LADA is designed to provide broad support to agricultural development and food security initiatives at the community and national levels.
The program aims to strengthen “aggregation clusters” through facilitating business relationships that link suppliers, producers, processors, buyers, and investors so that all actors along the value chain can benefit from sustainable growth.