Lowland rice farmers in Liberia have limited access or no access to mechanized services wherein they have several activities in terms of brushing and land preparations that require hard labor and is cost intensive.
Some beneficiaries of power tillers provided by the United States Agency for International Development Food and Enterprise Development (USAID-FED) are making headway in their respective operational counties.
In an exclusive interview with the head of the Progressive Farmers, Sulu Zese, under the banner of Suamuah District Multi Purpose Corporative in Bong County, he said, through the power tiller his work has improved tremendously.
He said he has so far been able to cultivate a little over 14hectares of rice in Bong County and hoped to increase cultivation of more hectares.
“I highly appreciate USAID FED for the high level of support to farmers; today I’m able to improve my livelihood through this power tiller which means a lot to me.
“Before the introduction of the program, I was using hard labor and little knowledge about making a large farm and many days I experienced pains,” Zeze explained.
He disclosed that since he received his power tiller, work has been very easy and many of the farmers have also benefited.
“We were asked to use it to help farmers who will call on me to work for them and so when they provide fuel we work for them,” he said.
Another local farmer Madam Garmai Zayzay, who is now operating on 3 acres of land due to the help of the power tillers, expressed gratitude to USAID FED for promoting farming in rural areas.
“Before, it took me more than a month to finish preparing my farm for production, but with the use of the machines it takes me less time to have my farm cultivated,” Zayzay, 29, said.
She said the presence of the machines in the county has increased production. “We suffered greatly during the absence of this machine because we used to pay L$275 to get someone to help us brush our farm and each acre I used 14 persons which was very costly but thank God for the machine now we are able to speed up our process less than two days,” Madam Zayzay said with excitement.
It may be recalled that USAID-FED in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) provided 30 power tillers, costing US$189,000 to young entrepreneurs in Lofa, Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa Counties under a cost sharing arrangement.
The USAID FED program aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians through increased agricultural productivity and profitability in rice, cassava, vegetable and goat value chains. It is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.