Many livestock farmers in Liberia are not accustomed to the intensive management and care of animals. Most of the small ruminants (sheep and goats) are left to wander, thus exposing them to wild animals and diseases.
The USAID Food and Enterprise Development (FED), one the partners helping to improve Liberia’s food security, has hired Liberian technicians to source local lumber for the construction of animal shelters for participating farmers.
The program will also hire local carpenters to build the shelters. Goat farmers are expected to provide the trees needed to produce the necessary wood.
USAID FED is in its third year and provides training in improved goat health care and husbandry for goat farmers in Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa and Nimba counties.
This year the program hired 23 sawyers and 29 carpenters to help 84 farming groups with goat shelter lumber and construction. USAID FED pays approximately US$1,200 for the wood and construction of the shelters, compared to more than US $3,500 when sourced directly from Monrovia, according to Morris Karnua, USAID FED’s livestock specialist, who spoke to the Daily Observer’s farmer desk.
USAID FED assists farmers to build a main shelter, maternity shelter and quarantine for sick goats. The program’s 2013 intervention helped farmers reduce kid mortality (death of young goats) from 46% to 22% among participants.
Junior Bee, 27, sawed wood in Bong county to build goat’s shelters. Bee belongs to the Who to Trust Sawyers Association, based in Lofa County and was hired by USAID FED.
Junior Bee spent approximately two weeks with the goat farmers to saw and prepare 445 planks of wood from seven trees. The group will now build a large goat shelter and two smaller shelters for some 250 goats.
“We can’t expect these organizations to bring us everything. We can work, too, and show how much we appreciate their support. We have the land and we have the wood, so we should use it,” explains Henry Kollie, a member of the Kwagai Goat Farmers Association in Melekie, Bong County.
The USAID FED Program for Liberia aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians through increased agricultural productivity and profitability in rice, cassava, vegetable and goat value chains. It is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.
The United States – as the largest donor and closest ally – is supporting the Liberian priorities to build sustainable local capacity, make a difference in people’s lives, and move towards a shared vision of self-sufficiency and prosperity.
USAID’s Food and Enterprise Development Program for Liberia is Africa’s largest project under President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence and increasing food security by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, the private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.