Despite the need for more farmers to grow food to sustain food self-sufficiency in the country, it is observed that many residents in Arthington, Lower Montserrado County are engaged into the cultivation of sugarcane on a large scale for income generation.
Although the Arthington farmers’ intentions may not be wrong per se, it is important that the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) gets involved in sensitizing the community to prioritize the production of food crops rather than sugarcane.
Research shows that sugarcane plantations have dramatic impact on the environment. Major environmental concerns associated with sugar plantations include air and water pollution, not to mention the improper disposal of the resulting wastes.
Interestingly, when the Daily Observer visited Arthington recently, residents of that area disclosed that they were accustomed to the production of the crop.
They said that sugarcane farming has become a traditional crop that has been cultivated for generations.
The farmers, however, acknowledged that they would like to prioritize other crops such as vegetables but were lacking support from the MoA.
They pointed out that the activities of the MoA were not available in Arthington, such as the teaching of new farming skills.
Arthington is one of the historical settlements in Liberia where the free men and women, who had left shores of the United States of America first settled before spreading across the country. Their descendants are still there today.
It is a fewmiles away from the nation’s capital, Monrovia, but it is in abject poverty.
The residents complained that their community has been neglected over the years, making mention of basic social services such as sanitation and safe drinking water as key facilities that government would provide.
They further said that the road conditions in the area were deplorable, making transportation difficult.
Besides sugar farming, the Arthington residents are also involved in coal mining for livelihood with the exception of a few back yard gardens.
Mr. Genius White, mayor of Arthington told this paper that some of his citizens were also engaged in pig raising and needed help.
He said animal feed was a major challenge for swine farmers in his township.
Meanwhile, an official of the MoA told this paper in a telephone conversation that considering the urgent need for Liberians to grow food, the MoA prefers to encourage farmers to cultivate food crops.
Minister Chea B. Garley, Assistant Minister for Technical Services confirms the need for farmers in Arthington to change their farming habits.
He said there is project at the MoA that will involve farmers in peri-urban communities such as Arthington.