At least 30 women calling themselves, “Arise and Shine” in Totota, Salala District, Lower Bong County on Saturday, January 18, harvested 4 hectares of farmland planted with improved variety of swamp rice.
The variety of rice grown was the NERICA 18 (meaning new rice in Africa.)
The rice harvest event was the official launch of the Arise and Shine farming group, which is an all-woman farming project.
It was attended by several distinguished personalities including the local authorities of Salala District, NGO workers and other farmers.
In his brief remarks, the rice specialist of the Food Enterprise Development (FED), David Benevfel, disclosed that his institution has
been working with the women in Salala District to improve their productivity.
Benevfel said that his institution had supported them with seed, tools and fertilizer.
He further stated that FED shall remain committed with their support to the women.
Giving an overview of the agriculture project, the head for Arise and Shine, Harriette Laway, said the project is intended to empower vulnerable women in her district.
“We staged this project to help empower many of the women economically to support their families. It is a self-help initiative that is giving them income. We also mean to enhance food production in the district through the implementation of this project,” she said.
Harriette also stated that about 20 acres of swamp land was cultivated through assistance from the Food and Enterprise Development (FED) program.
According to her, FED has supported them with certified seed, tools and fertilizer to enhance their production.
She, however, regretted the lack of support from the Ministry of Agriculture, stating that they are not working to improve agriculture in the country.
“I have informed the MoA about our farm project but we have not been helped. Throughout the year, the Ministry’s vehicles pass this farm, which is closed to the road, without stopping to inquire,” she lamented.
She also disclosed that her organization is involved into vegetable production.
Some of our members are growing crop like, bitter ball, watermelon, pepper and others.
In his welcome statement, the Commissioner of Salala District, Karmon Kenneh, called on NGOs to intensify their support toward agriculture in his district.
“I have observed that NGOs’ works in this districts are not making the necessary impact needed on the lives of farmers,” he stated.
He said that farmers in his district are committed to producing more food but lack the support.
According to Commissioner Kenneh, with more support given to farmers, food production will increase in the district.
He stated that there are many swamp land in Salala Districts that were laid out in the seventies and that when they are developed, farmers would be empowered.
Also speaking, former development Superintendent for Bong County, George Sally, called on government to prioritize agriculture with allotting more money in the national budget for agriculture.
He stated that it is only by doing so that agriculture sector can be revamped.
According to him many Liberian farmers are still doing farming through manual labor, adding that such system of agriculture activities will not have the country self-sufficient.
He suggested that the government now become to support farmers through mechanized farming.
“Let the government support farmers’ organizations in the country with modern equipments to increase their production,” he stressed.
Mr. Sally, who is also one of Salala District’s potential farmers disclosed that farmers in his districts do not get farming inputs from government and partners on time.
He said that it is posing a serious problem for many farmers in his district.