Some vegetables farmers and traders at the Red-light Market in Paynesville have outlined a number of challenges that confront their farming businesses.
In an interview with the Daily Observer recently, the farmers named the high cost of farming inputs, the lack of storage facilities and limited market opportunity as some of the problems which are limiting their incomes and profits.
They want the government to create the enabling environment that will increase their profit margin to enable them remain in business.
The president of the Monrovia Vegetable Farmers Association, Sumo Mulbah told this newspaper that farming inputs such as fertilizers, seeds and agro-chemical materials are costly on the local market, thus influencing the increase in the prices of commodities by local farmers.
According to Mr. Mulbah, a 50kg bag of fertilizer is now sold for L$5,500 in farm stores in Monrovia than previous years. He also mentioned that farmers were purchasing vegetable seeds at a high cost.
“If nothing is done to reduce the price of agricultural inputs on the market, farmers will not be encouraged to produce more and remain in business. We want our government to ensure that farming materials are sold at affordable prices,” he added.
The Government of Liberia in 2015 introduced a policy (Executive Order Number 64) that ensures the reduction on taxes on all agricultural inputs to enable farmers increase production and make profits from their businesses.
But during the interview with the farmers and traders, they said they had very little knowledge of the agricultural policy and it is not taking any effect. “We do not know about any policy of that nature to be able to improve our farming activities. The prices of agricultural produce still remain the same for the past years,” they said.
Other issues they mentioned was the level of extension services being carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and the lack of export markets that could increase their income generating capacities.
“I am a farmer from Harrisburg in Montserrado County, where extension services for farmers are very poor. There is no one to visit our fields to advise us on how to overcome our farming challenges and this leads us to produce poor quality produce for the market,” Michel Flomo, lamented.
“We also need an export market to increase market opportunities for farmers and vegetable sellers. There is no need for us to continue to always import foreign vegetables (tomato, cabbage, etc.) when our soil is favorable to grow them, so we want the government to create export markets for farmers,” he added.