Representatives of farmers from 12 of the 15 counties are in search of opportunities to upgrade farming activities across the country to improve and increase production
They expressed the need for government to mechanize the agriculture sector which they describe as the core sector with the potentials to reduce poverty and improve food security.
According to them, there have been reports of funds, grants and loans the international partners have allocated for projects that were designed to empower farmers to realize their vision which as a result, could improve food productivity and create more jobs since the sector was once a high employment creator.
The farmers’ representatives are appealing for funds to take farming to the next level to include mechanized farming.
Representatives of the National Farmers Corporation of Tarlesson Farm Incorporated spoke in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer.
“Our appeal is intended to include farmers from across the country in any future donor funding in order to empower us and boost our production since some of our members have not benefited from any formal agriculture training to be able to achieve their desired farming expectations.
The chairperson of the group, John Duo, said: “Projects that the government through the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) often publishes in local dailies and sometimes airs on local radio stations could change everything in the agriculture sector if they are sincerely implemented to reach the rural farmers.”
Mr. Duo expressed gratitude for those agricultural related projects, but said the implementers were mainly concerned about conducting series of training workshops, rather than getting the farmers to do the practical work that will in the end produce the needed results to the consuming public.
He added that in 2015 the World Bank provided a grant of US$54 million to reduce poverty and food insecurity and also take care of other farming activities such as providing implements.
Unfortunately, Mr. Duo said, the country had just experienced the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) to which the money was reportedly diverted to help attend to Ebola survivors as well as take care of other health-related matters.
“We want to be included in funded agriculture projects such as the one to which the amount of US$20 million was allotted to create local farmers’ markets; or the $US54 million Smallholder Agriculture Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization project and the World Bank US$54 million grant to reduce food insecurity and other projects.
“This is our urgent appeal to the MoA authorities,” Mr. Duo said as some representatives nodded in approval of his statement.
However, some members of the farmers’ group want the MoA and international agricultural-related NGOs to give funds directly to their groups to undertake their desired projects.
“Not everything marked out in government and international NGO projects are beneficial to local farmers. This does not mean well for us as farmers,” the group told this newspaper.
“As a result of our experiences, we want funds to go directly to farming groups’ accounts. This will help us take on our own projects because we know exactly what our challenges are,” said Enoch Y. Saydee, River Gee County group representative.
Furthermore, the group requests that the government reduce the importation of pepper and other vegetables from nearby countries because those crops can be easily grown here in plenty.
“We want the government to minimize the importation of pepper, ground nuts, benny seed and others vegetables from nearby countries because we grow these things here in abundance in the rural areas. Let the government renovate farm to market roads and our people will have our local produce in abundance on the local markets,” said Saydee.
The group also appealed to the government to double its efforts to introduce mechanized farming to the local farmers as it has the potential to maximize productivity, create more jobs and strengthen food security.