Franklin Tengbeh, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Mayor Farmers Association (MFA) in Foya District, Lofa County, has been outlining the challenges in growing rice in the district.
Mr. Tengbeh and other members of MFA have been growing rice for the last two years Foya.
They have cultivated about 14.7 hectares this year with various improved rice varieties and planned to extend the farm during the next farming season. Some of the improved varieties of rice planted include, NERICA 19, Suakoko and Aromatic rice that are intended for seed rice.
As Tengbeh and his colleagues commence the harvesting of the rice, he has been outlining a number of challenges. He named lack of storage, transportation, thrashers and drying floor, among others as impediments to their farming. There is also a need for the construction of a dam at the upper end of the swamp to control the flows of water entering the rice field to ensure rice growth throughout the year.
“This farmland is situated close to a great river water source that if a dam is constructed growing rice can occur three times annually. The road condition is very deplorable and we lack vehicles to transport our produce for marketing,” Tengbeh said when addressing local government officials and agriculture stakeholders at the launch of a recent rice harvest event in Foya District.
Foya is one of the productive agriculture districts in Lofa County, Liberia’s leading “bread basket.” This region is endowed with a fertile soil for crops production.
The MFA is expected to harvest 50 metric tons of rice seed that will be sold to the government and multiply as seed to other farmers.
“We have a vision to grow more rice to improve food production in the country but we want government to provide for us all necessary support,” Tengbeh pleaded.
He called for quick intervention from the government to construct storage as mean to avoid losses after their harvest.
“We will experience a great loss if nothing is done about storage this is why we have called the government’s attention to it,’ MFA CEO stated.
According to him, in order for Liberia to be self-sufficient in food, government must support farmers with power tillers and tractors to cultivate large area of land.
“We must graduate from traditional [subsistence] farming as it not going to lead us to food self-sufficiency. We are appealing to the government to come in and address these challenges confronting our farming system,” he further pleaded.
Mr. Tengbeh has disclosed plans for the extension of their out-grower program in Foya District. He said though the program supports several rice farmers with seed in seven villages, plans are underway to reach to more towns and villages.
He said the aim of the out grower program is to increase the availability of rice seed for farmers with in his district.