As part of the effort to build the capacity of Liberian youth, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sport (MYS), has built and presented a fishpond to the youth of Grand Cape Mount County.
Martin Vanderknaap, Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer of FAO, and Lance Gbagonyon, Deputy Minister for Youth Development, officially dedicated the fishpond and promised to continue supporting it to ensure the success of the initiative.
“Fisheries and aquaculture speak of a blue economy (referring to the ocean’s color). We have always been focusing on cassava, beans, rice and other crops, but it’s time for fish and hope we can improve fish production in Liberia,” remarked Mr. Vanderknaap.
“The FAO will extend the project to the end of this year upon request made by you, because I am very impressed to see such a huge gathering of youth and some older people who showed commitment to the initiative. And we want to see at the end of the year that our fish are growing, which will make the program a success,” said.
According to him, the FAO intends to show how aquaculture can be a profitable enterprise, especially for the youth of the county, if properly managed.
Mr. Vanderknaap said there were some challenges, including feeding the fish, with some of them not attaining the expected size in the pond.
Also speaking, Deputy Minister Gbagonyon said he was greatly impressed to see groups of young people voluntarily working together with high commitment. He also commended the women of Cape Mount and Bomi counties for their level of involvement.
“I am touched because of the ratio of male to female, which also shows that our women are willing to take the lead in terms of development, demonstrated in Bomi, Grand Bassa and today in Cape Mount,” he said.
Minister Gbagonyon urged the beneficiaries not to always be on the receiving end of everything but make use of what was provided that would benefit the community and individual as well.
The youth in their response, requested that the two institutions continue to provide for the feeding of the fish up to the first harvest, fencing of the pond, payment of security personnel and the extension of the project to include poultry.
“We also want the extension of the project into vegetable production, including eddoes, cassava and other produce, apart from aquaculture,” the youth said.
Thinking ahead, the youth said during the dry season, the entire area would be dry and urged FAO and MYS to provide a water pump for the fishpond.