Liberia is among 36 other countries that are in need of food aid, according to a Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations’ report issued in Rome, Italy, that was recently quoted by the Inter Press Service News Agency.
Liberia’s food security is dire due to lack of farm to market roads that forces farmers to leave their harvests on their farms. Another issue is lack of buyers. Liberia’s second staple is cassava, for which farmers in Bomi County are best known for producing a high quality product. However, lack of financial and other support has left them to produce as much as they are able, and in their weak way turn the cassava into a product known as fufu and sold on local markets.
“We can grow more food only when we get the support of the government and partners,” Ms. Jenneh Roger of Demeh, Bomi County, told the Daily Observer in an interview recently. “Demeh is cassava growing community and so all we need is support.”
She said many Liberians in urban communities go hungry because street sellers suffer from actions of community and national police officers who seize and reportedly auction their goods, and confiscate their proceeds.
On the global front, the FAO report said hunger prevails despite global food supply conditions that are robust, adding that access to food has been dramatically reduced in areas suffering from civil conflicts, with drought conditions worsening food security across the board.
The FAO noted that some 37 countries require external assistance for food, 28 of them in Africa, including Liberia, as a result of lingering effects of last year’s El Niño-triggered droughts on harvests. In Liberia’s case, the failure of the Liberian government to commit huge allocation of its annual resources to support large scale farmers is one of the reasons many are hungry.
The FAO said while agricultural production is expected to rebound in southern Africa, protracted fighting and unrest is increasing the ranks of the displaced and hungry in other parts of the world.
Famine has been formally declared in South Sudan and the food security situation is of grave concern in northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.
“This is an unprecedented situation. Never before have we been faced with four threats of famine in multiple countries simultaneously,” said FAO Assistant Director-General Kostas Stamoulis, head of the Economic and Social Development department.
“It demands swift action which should consist of immediate food assistance but also livelihood support to ensure that such situations are not repeated.”
The 37 countries currently in need of external food assistance are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.