Twenty local artisans who are undergoing training by Africa Rice to build modern rice threshers have lauded Africa Rice and partners for empowering them through a 3 week training in fabricating rice threshers.
The training is in collaboration with the Government of Liberia and SAPEC to build modern ASI rice threshers in Liberia as means of reducing the high importation of food.
According to one of the participants, Joseph Daywhea, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Dream Workshop in Buchanan, the training builds up their skills, especially in fabricating bigger rice threshers that will benefit farmers and the country.
“At first I had no idea about fabricating a rice thresher but I was involved in producing cassava mills and other agricultural tools for sale to farmers, but now I am prepared to contribute to my country by producing rice threshers that will add value to farmers’ produce,” he said.
Mr. Daywhea stated that upon completion of the training, which will end this Saturday, he will help other local artisans by training them to fabricate big and smaller rice threshers as his contribution to the improvement of food security in the country.
He called on the government to provide financial support to farmers either in grants or loans to enable them to work effectively in producing those equipment farmers need to increase production.
“We have hard working farmers in the country who are willing to contribute immensely to the sector, but without agricultural equipment like processing machines, rice threshers, cassava mills that make the work easy for them, there will be limited results and the country will still spend millions on importation of food,” he said.
He also called on Africa Rice to keep empowering local farmers and requested its representative, Dr. Inoussa Akintayo, to make the program sustainable.
Mr. Benedict Sampson, chief executive officer of Gbarnga based Moonlight Metal Workshop, appreciated the organizers for the training, which he said has encouraged more local farmers and artisans to get involved in developing local equipment and tools that will be affordable to farmers.
“We can all contribute to our country by our skills. Fabricating rice threshers is very essential because rice is our country’s staple food and this will help smallholder farmers greatly by adding value to their locally grown produce,” he said.
Mr, Sampson called on the government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to support local artisans by awarding them contracts, which will contribute to their success.
Engineer Oloje Daniel, who is one of the facilitators from Nigeria, told our reporter that the fabrication of four modern rice threshers is about 95 percent complete.
He explained that the advantage of the training is that it has empowered local artisans to manufacture rice threshers to strengthen the production of rice and also repair machines when they have problems.
“As facilitators, we are very proud of local artisans in Liberia because they are talented, creative and are willing to learn,” he said.
He urged the Liberian government and partners to invest in farmers, especially the artisans to help boost their capacities and advance mechanized farming.
Africa Rice Country Representative Dr. Akintayo said via mobile phone that the four fabricated rice threshes will be turned over to the Ministry of Agriculture.
He promised to work along with artisans and farmers in the country as part of his organization’s mandate in promoting agriculture, especially rice production.
“We will continue to work with local farmers and provide financial support through grants and loans to empower them,” he promised.
The local artisans are being trained by three professional staff members from DESFABENG Company Ltd of Nigeria. The training commenced June 27, and will be concluded Saturday July 16, in Gbarnga, Bong County.