Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper has said that in order for Liberia to have a better food security system, the youths must be empowered to boost agriculture.
Senator Cooper made the statement Tuesday at a program marking the inauguration of a soil Science Laboratory at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Margibi County by the United States Agency for International Development Food and
Enterprise Development (USAID –FED ) in collaboration with the Government of Liberia.
He said the growth of the country’s agriculture sector is very important to food security.
“Food security is a big issue in our country. If we work together and empower the younger generation to take over agriculture, we will boost food security and make more money,” he said.
Senator Cooper called on the government and his colleagues in the Senate to take into consideration the significance of food security in the country, adding that getting more youths involved in agriculture and boosting support for farmers is pivotal to improving food security and economic well-being in the years to come.
“It is time we stop talking too much in the legislature and engage farmers, especially the youths, empower them in the agriculture field because they are the driving force to success,” he urged.
He made it clear that subsistence farming in the country was no longer an option.
Senator Cooper explained that with the status of the country being one of the highest importers of food, it was time for Liberians to put subsistence farming aside.
He promised to work with BWI students in an effort to promote agriculture by ensuring that more youths are engaged in farming so that the country reaches food sufficiency.
“I am a rubber planter and it takes me seven years to harvest my rubber farm. I have made up my mind to grow food because it will take me less than three years to boost production.
“As a farmer, I encourage every one of you, especially the youths to engage in farming but you must do what you like best if you want to become a prominent person in the society,” Senator Cooper admonished.
Mr. Kenneth Y. Best, Managing Director of the Liberian Observer Corporation, and chairman of BWI’s Board of Directors, used the occasion to call on USAID-FED Chief of Party Madam Agnes Luz to appeal to the US government to extend the agriculture training program from five to twenty years in order for the country to reach its best stage in promoting agriculture.
He asked, “Why would you want to close operations in five years? Madam Luz I’m asking you to appeal to the American government for this project to be extended to 20 years in order to improve agriculture in our country,” Mr. Best said.
The Daily Observer publisher cautioned students to take their work seriously, adding “whatever your hands find to do, do it well” and hoped to see the youths become employers which he said could only happen through hard work, seriousness of purpose and determination to achieve their goals in life.
He said that the government spends millions of dollars on the importation of food items, including our staple rice, chicken, cow meat, pepper, bitter balls from other countries, including Mali.
He challenged Liberians to focus on agriculture in order to make the country self-sufficient.
Responding to Mr. Best’s request for the FED program to be extended, USAID Deputy Mission Director Madam Barbara Dickerson told Mr. Best and Senator Cooper that the program would be continued after the first five years.