At least 15 county agriculture coordinators (CAC) and eight district agriculture officers (DAO) across the country recently completed a 2-day training workshop on climate change adaptation in agriculture at the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) in Suakoko, Bong County.
The workshop was organized by the Climate Change Adaptation Agriculture Project (CCAAP) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
It was intended to train extension workers on climate change vulnerability to enable them to conduct an assessment on the effect of climate change in their various places of assignment in the country.
Moreover, the trainees are expected to create awareness of the effect of climate to local farmers.
Giving an overview of the workshop, the program coordinator of CCAAP at the MoA, Atty. Roland J. Lepol, said that climate change is a threat to Liberia’s development efforts, and so there was a need for farmers’ awareness.
“Climate change undermines the enhancement of food security where farmers face serious problems with crop production in their productive fields. When there is flooding due to constant rainfall, farmers do not have the chance to produce enough food,” he mentioned.
According to him, the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) is one of three pilot projects designed by the government and partners to identify key areas in the agriculture sector.
Mr. Lepol said farmers in the past were not experiencing climate change but it is presently causing a serious problem for many subsistence farmers.
He therefore asserted that the training of the CACs and DAOs from various counties signals the fight against climate change.
Also speaking at the program, the Assistant Minister for Planning and Economic Affairs, Mr. Harrison Luo, added that climate change makes life difficult for poor farmers.
He stated that the vulnerabilities caused by it are something the Government needs to address at all cost.
“To ensure that local farmers cope with climate change is to provide enough education and necessary support to increase food production. Those farmers suffering from poor soil conditions through traditional methods of farming must be encouraged to farm in the swamp. This will however require substantial support from government and its partners,” he noted.
For his part, Director for Extension at the MoA, Edward Perry, said that climate change seriously affects farming, because the role of farmer behavior is poorly captured by crop-climate models.
He said many farmers do not know which crop to grow at a particular time.
Mr. Perry said the overall effect of climate change on agriculture would depend on the balance of these effects.
He said assessment of the effects of global climate changes on agriculture might help to properly anticipate and adapt farming to maximize agricultural production.
The MoA extension director added that in order to further study the effects of global warming (climate change) on agriculture, other types of models, such as crop development models, yield prediction and quantities of water or fertilizer can be used.
According to him, such models condensed the knowledge accumulated of the climate, soil, and effects observed of the results of various agricultural practices.
Meanwhile, several CACs and DAOs who participated in the two days’ workshop said that last year’s farmers in their various counties experienced low production of crops as the result of climate change.
According to them, the months of June and July of last year were very difficult for farmers due to constant rainfall.