As the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP) in Du-port Road Paynesville, introduces the new method for planting rice to increase yield namely, “system of rice intensification ( SRI)”, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has urged residents residing in the urban parts of Liberia to rise up and grow more food to end hunger in the country.
The Liberian leader made the call on Saturday, May 10, in Paynesville, when CHAP launched the first harvest of rice cultivated through the SRI practice.
SRI is an innovation that changes the conventional practices of rice growing, enabling the rice plant to better express their production potentials. It consists of producing rice with less seed, less water with either no fertilizer on a soil that is rich with organic matters.
This new way to plant rice was adopted by Liberian farmers last year in Kakata, Margibi County. The aim is to increase the production of rice in Liberia for self-sufficiency.
Speaking at the occasion, President Sirleaf said that Liberia can only become food secure provided Liberians are willing to grow more food.
She lauded members of CHAP for the initiative to engage in agriculture activities and promised to pay the laborers hired to work on the farm.
“I am highly impressed about your active participation in to farming activities in the urban areas. When I first heard that there is some group of citizens farming here in Du-port Road, I was shocked. This is why I visited your field in 2008 and was impressed thereby mentioning your contributions in my Annual Massage [to the nation], as part of my government’s achievements toward the fight against hunger,” she told the farmers at the program.
At the same time, considering the constraint faced by urban farmers to access to land, the Liberian President disclosed that there are plans to lift the moratorium on the sale of public land in the country.
According to her, when this is done urban farmers will be able to contribute greatly to the nation’s food security.
Liberia’s Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth, who also spoke at the program, said the Ministry of Agriculture, will provide technical support to the Du-port road farmers.
She called on the Du-port farmers to exercise patient as government would do all it can to address the land crisis facing them.
For his part, the Executive Director for CHAP, Reverend Robert Bimba, said that farmers in the country are encouraged to adopt the SRI practice to increase the yield of rice.
“CHAP is implementing the SRI practice in Liberia, with support from the Ministry of Agriculture and other partners. The project is currently being piloted in three counties, including Montserrado, Grand Gedeh and River-Gee Counties,” he disclosed.
Reverend Bimba said that ownership to the Du-port farm land was needed to enable the farmers increase their production.
“We are appealing to the government so that we may have complete access to this farm land (Du-port Road) for production,” he mentioned.
He said that though the land was given by permission from the city government of Paynesville, many times farmers have been stopped from farming on the land.