For many Liberian youths, doing backbreaking labor on the farm and getting little to show for it is not something they want to do.
However, there are a number of Liberian youths who have attended agricultural training programs by the government and its partners and are engaged in farming and other agri-businesses.
Otis Mulbah, 27, is such a youth. He is a resident of Mount Barclay, a suburb of Monrovia, who has found employment in agriculture to support his family.
He recently told the Daily Observer in an interview on his farm that his involvement in agriculture has changed his life for the better.
“Through agriculture I have gained respect among my peers in my community. I have built a decent home and my children are in school,” he said.
In his six years as a vegetable farmer, Otis said he has acquired a lot of farming knowledge through training from agriculture supportive NGOs and his personal field experiences.
He added that his willingness to learn helped him to seize several agricultural training opportunities such as tractor operation, modern farming and agribusiness techniques.
“From the early 2000 to the present, I have learned a lot through training in farmer field school (training conducted on the field). I took advantage of every agricultural opportunity such as power training. Currently, I am using the power tiller to extend services to farmers for fees,” said Mulbah.
He said the United States Agency for International Development Food and Enterprise Development’s (USAIDFED) agriculture programs taught him improved ways of growing vegetables that have increased his income over the years.
“I am grateful for the training that I received from USAID FED particularly on decreasing post-harvest losses that have helped me to realize that agriculture is a real business,” Mulbah said.
Mulbah urges the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to introduce strategies that will encourage more Liberian youths to see agriculture as a profitable venture.
“We want to continue farming but one of our major challenges is the lack of finance to buy farming materials such as fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides. These farming materials are nowadays very costly and farmers are not able to afford them. If the government can ensure that farming materials are affordable and address the issue of storage, more young people will remain in farming,” he said.