Thirty three year old farmer Zulu Zayzay, has been
operating a power tiller provided by USAID FED for the Fuamah District Cooperative Society in Bong Mines, lower Bong County to improve rice production.
In an interview with the Daily Observer last Wednesday, Zayzay said although Liberia has emerged from more than a decade of civil conflict, the youths still face a challenge in finding employment.
“By supporting Liberian youth in agriculture, USAID FED aids the Liberian government in helping the youth find sustainable employment especially in the area of agriculture,” Zayzay said.
He said due to the improved skills and the provision of modern technologies in rice production provided by USAID FED, he has raised enough income to construct a decent home and support his family.
He has furthermore developed three hectares with an improved rice seed variety.
He said “I got training in growing lowland rice and fertilizer to increase my yield.” He said he grew rice on one acre, using local seed and harvested 15 of 50 kg bags of paddy rice. Since partnering with USAID FED, he said his field has expanded from one acre to three hectares due to the additional support in mechanization.
On the three acre rice field he was able to harvest 180 50kg bags last year, which represents an increase of 1167% more than what he used to harvest before USAID FED’s assistance.
Zayzay said in August 2015, USAID FED distributed power tillers to 30 youth entrepreneurs from Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bassa counties to assist lowland rice farmers to plow their fields and generate income. Zulu got one of the power tillers under a cost-share arrangement.
“I have reached more than 40 farmers in tilling their fields, totaling approximately 38 hectares, with the power tiller that I obtained from FED,” he said.
He observed that this is an opportunity which helps him to raise additional money.
In addition to power tillers, USAID FED has distributed 49 tuk tuks with carriages to transport goods from the farms to the markets.
These initiatives address constraints in the agriculture business through mechanization and logistics provisions which have become an opportunity to get more youth involved in providing services to farmers.
USAID FED has created a strategy that seeks to encourage Liberian youth to be more engaged in agriculture. 500 farmers in Bong Mines have partnered with USAID FED since 2013 to develop approximately 300 hectares of low land rice fields.