The United States Agency for International Development Food Enterprise Development (USAID FED) for the past four years has increased capacities of local farmers in the country to produce more crops, especially the country’ staple food, rice.
Since its inception in the country, USAID-FED agricultural program has empowered over 50,000 farmers who are now operating 10,630 hectares of farmland. The program operates in four value chains, namely rice, cassava, vegetables and goats.
In an exclusive interview, Chief of Party of USAID FED Madam Agnes Luz said within the four value chains in which her organization is operating, the rice sector has improved immensely.
She mentioned Fabrar Rice Processing Industry as an outcome of USAID FED that her organization has supported to empower local farmers by marketing their produce to add value by processing the locally grown rice as a means to cut down the expense of imported rice.
She said during the beginning of USAID FED five year project in 2013, the number of farmers was very low. “In 2013, there were only 7,880 farmers operating on 2,157 hectares of farmland, but the number later grew up to 20,000 farmers with 3,915 hectares in 2014 and has increased immensely in 2015 to 50,500 farmers and 10,630 hectares of improve seed rice and the sale of rice also increase to $1.2M,” Madam Luz added.
As a means of responding to farmers’ plea for a safe plant, she said, USAID FED has built nine rice business hubs (6,800 MT/yr additional milling capacity , 1500M3 additional storage) responsible to keep the produce of farmers fresh, 30 power tillers and 1-2 warehouses .
“Our responsibility at USAID FED is to increase productivity and profitability of agricultural value chains and improve human nutrition. We are proud of the farmers and we encourage others to join agriculture because very soon with the level of performance from local farmers, Liberia will export rice to other countries in the near future.”
She described the rice sector as one of her successes with over 50,000 farmers into rice production which the country depends on for survival.
She asserted that before the beginning of her five year project, farmers were carrying on subsistence farming for consumption and expressed joy about the efforts farmers are showing in the six counties of Lofa, Nimba, Bong, Grand Bassa, Montserrado and Margibi and promised to improve the sector.
USAID FED Chief of Party also confirmed that farmers have generally benefitted from the provision of hand tools, better quality rice planting materials and training that have improved their knowledge and skills in the technology of farming.
She pledged her organization’s commitment to continue empowering and improving the lives of farmers by ensuring that farmers in Liberia export food to other countries like the United States of America, France and other countries to boost agriculture production in the country.
She said farmers keep demonstrating their willingness to grow their own food but need the Liberian government to make their work more effective by establishing centers that will be able to keep the products safe when harvested.