Liberia cannot be a safe place if many of its people keep going to bed hungry, USAID-FED Project’s Communication Specialist Robert Reeves told a team of journalists during a four-day tour of its project farms in Bong and Nimba counties.
Mr. Reeves made the remarks during a visit to Garmue Town in Bong County, to inspect rice farming projects.
He said USAID-FED has taken the initiative to train farmers in developing and using modern farming methods, and providing them some tools, such as rice hub to eradicate the hand pounding and power tillers to increase farming land space without much labor and reduce the number of manpower on the job.
The lead farmer in Garmue Town, Johnson W. S. Varyao, commended USAID-FED for its support to the farmers. He called on the Liberian Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, to link them to more partners who will help them with tools and skills training to manage their farming activities effectively.
“We no longer beat rice in mortars and the presence of power tillers has given us better advantage to increase productivity,”Varyao said.
One of the female farmers, Agnes T. Flomo, appreciated USAID-FED on behalf of her colleagues for the many contributions the project has provided them.
Ms. Flomo said links to market and Village Savings and Loans have helped in shaping the lives of many people by affording them the opportunity to pay their children’s school fees and handle other family needs.
The farmers in Nengbein Town in Nimba County, under the banner Menlehkoyee Vegetable Farming Group, lamented the gradual closure of USAID-FED’s activities with them but expressed gratitude for the project’s immense assistance through training and links to financial institutions for loans.
The lead farmer of the group, Mr. Lawrence N. Gonsahn, said their group was established in 2003.
“We saw the need to unite so that we could have a strong collective voice as we move on with our farming activities,”Gonsahn said.
He said USAID-FED met them prepared to accept new challenges and ready to expand their network in membership and resources.
Mr. Gosahn told reporters that they will miss USAID-FED as its operations in the country end in December but said they are together and hope to remain a united force.
The women farmers’ representative, Yarr Flomo Yearnu, said the tools, fertilizers and skills USAID-FED has provided them are great gifts that they will never forget.
USAID-FED is a five year US$75 million project that began in 2012.
The four day tour began with a visit to Bong Mines (now China Union concession site) and onward to Garmue Town in Panta District of Bong County, Nengbein Town and Karnplay in Nimba County with a last stop at Kandakai Town where goat rearing is one of the four value chains.
The farmers meanwhile called on partners and the government for more support in order to produce more food for the country.
USAID-FED is the US Government initiative that seeks to see Liberia generate the capacity to feed its people now and for the future.
The project focused on empowering farmers to undertake four value chain products including rice, cassava, vegetables and goat rearing.