By Judoemue kollie
The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in partnership with the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) has disclosed that 100 youth with BSC or Associate degree in agriculture will be recruited as volunteers to provide short term extension related services to smallholder farmers across the country.
The qualified youths when recruited will work with assigned County Agriculture Coordinators (CAC) in the various counties, local authorities and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector for a period of six months. According to the Deputy Minister for Regional Development Research and Extension at the MOA, Thomas Gbokie, the recruits will be duly compensated for their services.
The MOA release said the assignment will focus mainly on identifying and training smallholder farmer organizations and micro-processors in business management skills and cassava aggregation and processing.
The program is part of the Liberian government’s ‘150 Days Deliverables’ initiative that seeks to further enhance food security in the country.
Deputy Minister Gbokie, explained to the Daily Observer via mobile phone that the initiative will create employment opportunities for the youth and help improve the farming activities of smallholder farmers across the country.
“The goal of this program is to put money into the pockets of the farmers as these youth will work in linking farmers with processors, mainly in the cassava value chain. They are to work directly with our field officers to create market linkages and help farmers and processors to develop business management skills,” he said.
“The cassava sector is one area where the ministry and partners are making great strides to improve the lives of farmers and improve food security,” he added.
He said that the initiative is also meant to address the challenge of extension services that is still facing the agriculture sector.
Statistics show that extension delivery service is a major constraint in the country’s agriculture sector. In Liberia, only one out of nine farmers has access to extension services.
According to Minister Gbokie, the MOA intends to improve on extension services for farmers in order to “move agriculture forward.”
“There must be a complete structure created at the Ministry that will address the issue of extension services for farmers. We cannot ‘move agriculture forward’ if there are not more extension workers in the various areas of disciplines in the sector. We need mechanized officers, youth and disabled farm officers, tree crops officers assigned at county and district levels to increase the number of extension delivery services for farmers,” he explained.
Minister Gbokie stated that the youth volunteers when recruited are expected to begin work in the assigned counties in this month.