Several dignitaries who attended the closing ceremony of 20 artisans that were trained by AfricaRice and partners have been urged to take back to their communities what they learned to build the skills of other local artisans.
Speaking recently in Gbarnga, Bong County, the Country Representative of AfricaRice, Dr. Inoussa Akintayo, said the absence of mechanization has affected the productivity of agriculture in general and rice in particular in Africa.
He said to alleviate the constraint AfricaRice in its new strategy has put mechanization as a top priority.
Mechanization can be done by importing equipment from overseas but this is not a sustainable approach, he said, “Therefore AfricaRice has developed capacity to promote in its member countries the knowhow to fabricate local agricultural machinery.
The strategy, he said has been successfully implemented in some of AfricaRice member countries, notably Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, La Cote d’Ivoire and Chad. He disclosed that AfricaRice has a project known as SAPEC that is funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) and implemented in collaboration with the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) to offer the opportunity for AfricaRice to extend its new strategy.
“In a few weeks to come, training on fabrication of other equipment such as planters, cleaners, and rice mills will be conducted. Through our approach, we intend to create market opportunities for local artisans, to reduce government import bill,” he stated.
Dr. Akintayo used the occasion to appreciate those who contributed to the success of the program and expressed gratitude to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who visited the training site on two occasions.
The Minister of Agriculture Dr. Moses Zinnah said that partners, especially AfricaRice, are working in line with the Government of Liberia’s Agriculture Transformation Agenda, which is to promote private entrepreneurs.
He mentioned the importance of artisans in the development of the agriculture sector by processing and adding value to food production.
He described mechanization as the missing link in the sector that needs to be addressed to reduce labor for farmers.
He urged the artisans to improve on their work and make the country proud.
“Don’t sit, do something that will encourage the government to help you. Now that you have been trained, it’s time to build the skills of others,” he said.
Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) Country Representative Marc Abdala said his organization is involved in making agriculture effective business to fight against hunger and malnutrition.
He urged the artisans to make agriculture an effective business by producing the right equipment to improve the quality of rice production.
“It’s very strange to hear that the country is importing half of its food and therefore there’s a need for all partners to work together to ensure the betterment of agriculture in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the artisans expressed thanks to the Government of Liberia and partners for building up their capacities through the support but requested continuous assistance to alleviate hunger in the country.