Less than two years to conclude the United States Agency for International Development-Food and Enterprise Development (USAID-FED) support toward local farmers in the country, Lofa County is basically utilizing the technical expertise and capital benefits provided by the program.
Lofa is noted for being one of the bread baskets of Liberia, where agriculture activities are always active.
The five-year program, which started in 2010 is aimed at providing farming equipment, improved agricultural skills in swamp rice development, cassava planting, livestock and vegetable production.
It also seeks to create marketing opportunities for local farmers, extension services and processing facilities.
The aim is to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians through increased agricultural productivity and profitability. It is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.
The United States Government is supporting the Liberian priorities to build sustainable local capacity, make a difference in people’s lives, and move towards a shared vision of self-sufficiency and prosperity.
USAID FED is Africa’s largest project under US President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence and increasing food security by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, the private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.
Interestingly, when the Daily Observer newspaper visited Lofa County recently, farmers from three districts including Voinjama, Foyah and Kolahun, expressed great satisfaction for USAIDFED’s support toward their various agricultural projects.
They said that with support received, there is gradual improvement in there farming activities.
According to them, farming implement such as machetes, hoes, power tillers, fertilizers and others have been provided by USAID-FED to improve their productivities.
They also disclosed being taught the knowledge of improved skills through workshops and in farmers’ field schools.
However, the farmers said that marketing has been a serious challenge for them but were now happy that FED was addressing such constraints.
A farmer in Krugmia town, Voinjama District, Musa M. Kabbah, told this paper that they have embarked on the cultivation of 1.7 hectares of lowland with support from USAID-FED.
He said the purpose of the project is to empower the members in order to support their families.
“In 2010, we stated this project in our community with 17 females and 15 males. Last year, we were fortunate to get support from FED to grow rice harvesting 20 bags of seed rice,” he said. But this year, we are determined to cultivate the entire field,” he added.
Betijama town is one of the towns in Lofa, that the project supports livestock farmers.
According to Mustapha L. McCarthy, FED’s Lofa County livestock officer, more than hundred persons are engaged into the rearing of small ruminant (goats, sheep) to earn income.
He told our reporter that 10 lead farmers from several communities in Foyah and Voinjama were trained last year on animal health care and intensive management.
He said that the intention of the training was to make goat farmers graduate from the traditional method of livestock farming to commercial animal breeding.
One of the beneficiaries of the livestock project in Betijama town, Massaquoi Morlu, said the number of goats raised by their group has increased from 50 to 78 goats.
Morlu said before the coming in of USAID-FED their animals were left to wander by themselves.
“We have acquired knowledge on how to raise the animal in the proper manner. This has enabled us to get money to improve our living conditions,” he said.
He, however, said that the marketing of their animals was something that needed some improvement.
“We do not have as many buyers to purchase the animals,” he mentioned.