Although Liberia is an agriculturally-rich country, with abundant vegetation and fertile soil, it is still a challenge getting farming to be prioritized above other sectors of the economy.
Many Liberians associate farming with hard work that leaves the body in poor condition, while others view it as an occupation that generates low financial income.
Most people prefer comfortable government jobs or to be employed in the private sector. These so called “office-jobs” are seen as being superior to agriculture, the sector which produces the very food we eat.
Nevertheless, among Liberians who support farming, there are those like former Nimba County Superintendent Robert Kamei; who believe that the Agriculture sector is the best place to be.
Expressing his views in a chat with the Daily Observer recently on his farm in Nimba County, Mr. Kamei said, “I am proud to be retired from public life to become a private citizen, especially in the agriculture sector. I enjoy being a farmer because it is less stressful than politics. It also allows me to contribute to government by providing employment opportunities for the people of my country.”
Prior to joining government in 2006 and retiring 2009, Mr. Kamei worked with the Bong County Agriculture Development Project (BCADP) in the 1980s.
“I was born on a farm where my eyes were opened to the benefits of farming. I decided to go into agriculture because my interest lies in it. This is why after leaving government I came to my farm; because I am already used to it,” Mr. Kamei acknowledged.
Except for Poultry, the retired Nimba Superintendent and Agriculturist is engaged in all spheres of farming; crop production (rubber, rice, cassava, oil palm, plantain and bananas) and animal husbandry, which includes cattle production, goat and sheep production, fisheries, and piggeries.
Mr. Kamei said though farming brings income, it has been quite challenging and cost intensive to make a farm as an individual.
He stressed on the lack of support from government to the nation’s farmers and the preference given to the importation of the nation’s staple food— rice— rather than supporting locally grown varieties; is discouraging to farmers.
He lamented the loss of 12 cows and 15 goats due to improper care when he had just started.
“Thank God for Food Enterprise Development (FED) that came in with a goat production program, which allowed me to acquire 21 goats for rearing.”
Mr. Kamei said in addition to the goats, FED helped to fence 12 acres of land with another 13 acres added later for keeping his livestock.
“I was able to get a loan from the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) that allowed me to purchase 25 cows. Unfortunately, we were not given sufficient time to pay; as a result we were forced to sell them to pay the bank.”
The interest Mr. Kamei has in Agriculture is not only confined to his Dingamon farm along the Sanniquellie Highway. He also has two acres of oil palm, 15 acres of Cocoa farm, and 50 acres of rubber in Yarwin Mensonnoh District, lower Nimba.
He said there are about 40 Liberians working on his farms in the county and hopes to increase the number as time goes by.
Mr. Joseph Suah, the head worker on Mr. Kamei’s farm, gave the Daily Observer a tour of the farm. He said one of the major problems facing the animals on the farm is harm caused by snake bites.
He said those animals that died were bitten by snakes and that they are rectifying the situation by planting certain trees that prevent snakes from coming into the fence.