The Dokodan Farmers’ Cooperative (DFC), in Gbedin, Nimba County has called on relevant stakeholders in the agriculture sector to provide assistance that will enable them to cultivate mass low-land rice. DFC is one of the largest farmers’ cooperatives currently operating in the country, but went through some difficult circumstances as a result of the EVD outbreak
It currently operates a 410-acre farm in the Gbedin area, but according to its president Jefferson Tokpah, this seems not to be enough for the over 250 farmers that find themselves in the township. Out of this number, there are 97 active working farmers including 36 females.
Speaking with officials of the West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program, who through AfricaRice are providing assistance to the farmers in terms of certified and foundation seeds, fertilizers and other technical support, Tokpah said there are over 990 acres undeveloped low-lands that the farmers are still waiting to make use of.
He appealed for the clearing of the land, the provision of seed rice, fertilizers and other technical supports that will enable them to put the land to use. “We want for government and its partners to help us in developing these acreages. There is a huge population in the town and most of our active farmers are not working because they don’t have land to work on,” Mr. Tokpah said.
He indicated that the number of farmers in the community is huge and the 410 acres cannot sustain them. “So if we can develop the 990 acres, farmers will have access to plots to farm and there will be no confusion among us here. This is our major problem,” he said.
He indicated that EVD had a huge toll on the community, leading to most of the rice produced last year not being sold because there was no market.
“Last year, the farmers grew up to 150 metric tons of rice and all was not purchased because of the Ebola outbreak. But for this time we want to thank God that AfricaRice and other partners came to give us some assistance,” he said.
He lauded the government, AfricaRice and WAAPP for the support, which included the new variety of rice seeding, NL-19. “AfricaRice gave us some money and certified seeds; this is why you see the field being cultivated. It is our prayer that by next year farmers will do more.”
The new variety, according to him, is cultivated thrice a year. “We want to thank God that this variety was recommended to us by the Ministry of Agriculture and our partners. This variety is very economical. We can cultivate it three times a year. We have already harvested two times this year and this is the third one that we are now on.”
World Bank Senior Agric Specialist, Dr. Abimbola Adubi, said the Cooperative should always strive to reinvest some of the funds that are generated from their produces, instead of calling on government for help.
Dr. Adubi, who said he was impressed with the level of work on the farm, said Cooperatives across the world are business ventures and they should always undertake initiatives on their own, especially after receiving initial support from government and its partners.