For the first time after the Civil war in Liberia, Lofa County farmers have received a tractor from the Ministry of Agriculture to help boost the level of production of food in their county.
Lofa County is known as Liberia’s leading breadbasket. Agricultural production in the county is greatly practiced by almost everyone.
Farmer Mohammed Kamara, executive director for the Agriculture and Infrastructures Development in Lofa earlier this week told the Daily Observer, that Lofa farmers had completed the plowing of 18.2 hectares with the tractor.
The machine is helping to expand their acreage and substantially reduce the labor cost.
“For the first time after the war, we the Lofaian farmers have begun practicing mechanized farming through the help of the MoA and its partners,” Kamara stated.
He disclosed that the tractor was in county to be used by the various farming organizations.
“We have also received power tillers from the USAID Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program for our low land rice project,” he disclosed.
USAID FED supports more than 30 lowland rice farming organizations in Lofa County with modern farming equipment, in order to help make the county self-sufficient in rice and to reduce poverty.
According farmer Kamara, their agricultural project is meant to empower farming communities to improve their income-generating capacity.
Mr. Kamara said he and his fellow farmers were in need of loans to enable them to improve their production.
A few months ago Liberia’s Agriculture Minister, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, stressed the need for the government of Liberia to prioritize mechanized agriculture in order to improve the productivity of local farmers and to boost the country’s food security. Speaking at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry conference held in Monrovia, Dr. Chenoweth said Liberia will greatly impact food production if only Liberian farmers were given the opportunities to practice mechanized farming.
She lamented that the Agriculture Ministry has only 13 tractors to be distributed to various farming organizations across the country.
Liberia’s agriculture budget stands at 2.4 percent with additional funding (loans) from external sources. The government of Liberia is yet to prioritize the Maputo Declaration on Food Security, which mandates African countries to set aside 10 percent in their national budget every year for agriculture.