The Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Alex Tyler has urged Liberians to grow their own food in order to feed themselves.
Speaker Tyler made the call recently at the launch of Liberia Business Incubator, a fully incorporated Liberian owned agriculture firm created in 2010 to tackle food insecurity in the country by improving the livelihood of farmers.
Speaker Tyler said Liberia has been depending on imports, even for rice, its staple food and other foods that can be grown in the country.
“It’s time for Liberians to invest in the soil and grow food and fruits that the country will need for survival as means of promoting the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We should stop depending on imported food and fruits and focus our attention on our soil. We have a very rich soil that puts out good produce but we are still focusing on imported foods, which is a major problem for us,” he stated.
He urged Liberians to join farming activities to reduce the prices of foods in the market. He thanked the United States Agency for Development and Food Enterprise Development (USAID FED) for the great job they are doing to empowering local farmers to produce food in the country.
He said the Liberian government will take into consideration the establishment of plants that will help farmers keep their products in better condition.
“The issue that has been difficult to address is how our farmers preserve what they produce. We have established plants for processing facilities but we need to start thinking about building facilities that will preserve the produce,” Speaker Tyler said.
“We’ve been eating rice for too long and it’s important to eat other foods,” he said, adding, “let’s encourage our farmers to work tirelessly in producing the best food and at the same time promote their products by purchasing them.”
USAID FED Chief of Party Agnes Luz disclosed that Liberians have expressed great interest in the agriculture sector that encouraged USAID FED to invest US $75Million in five years to empower Liberians to produce their own food.
She said the farmers have generally benefitted from the provisions of hand tools, better quality cassava planting materials and training that have improved their knowledge in cassava farming.
She pledged her organization’s commitment to continue empowering and improving the lives of farmers by ensuring that farmers in Liberia export food to other countries like the United States and France.
She said her organization began to support LBI through the procurement of cassava processing equipment and helped LBI add value to cassava by processing it into products such as gari, fufu, flour among others.
Commerce Minister Axel Addy asserted that the major problem Liberian farmers are facing is marketing their produce.
He said he has noticed the willingness of Liberians to grow their own food but there is a need for the government to make farmers work more effective by adding value to their produce.
“They are being put into place and we need to pass a bill that government will buy 25% of what is produced by farmers in terms of rice, cassava among others,” Minister Addy said.
He urged farmers to improve their activities by adding more values to their production by fixing different kinds of food.
“Transformation does not come from government alone but the citizens must take up the challenge to improve the living conditions of everyone by contributing to the country,” he said.
The LBI cassava processing facility’s CEO Rugie Barry said what prompted her to establish the processing industry is to improve her country’s agriculture activities by providing and processing Liberia’s local food.
“Cassava is Liberia’s second staple crop and one of the primary sources of income for rural farmers and it plays a role in food security, especially since it can be harvested before the rice harvest and is often planted as a follow-on crop to rice.
“Following my travel to other countries, I noticed that all of the food that grow in Liberia were processed and sold in super markets and other areas, and after I attended the African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP-Liberia),it encouraged me to begin investing into planting cassava and today my dream of having a processing industry has come true,” Rugie explained.
She disclosed that she has started exporting locally made products including gari, fufu, among others to the United States and hoped to export them to other countries.
Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development Food and Enterprise Development (USAID FED) Program in collaboration with the Government of Liberia (GoL) inaugurated the Liberia Business Incubator (LBI) Cassava Processing Facility recently in Lower Virginia, Montserrado County.