An American funded non-governmental organization (NGO), Food and Enterprise Development (FED), on October 27, inaugurated a modern soil science laboratory at the Nimba County Community College (NCCC) in Sanniquellie.
“The project is to enhance the study of soil quality in order to promote food productivity in the county,” one of the agriculture experts at the ceremony told the Daily Observer.
The science lab, built at an estimated cost of US$70, 000, will provide services to the agriculture students in the college and also help local farmers understand the types of soil they are cultivating.
“Through the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/FED), agriculture students enrolled at the four Centers of Excellence in Vocational Agricultural Education in Liberia including the Booker Washington Institute, the Grand Bassa, Lofa and Nimba County Community colleges, will now have access to modern science laboratories,” said Boima Bafaia, USAID/FED Deputy Chief of Party.
He said to ensure quality agriculture education in Liberia the USAID/FED has established the Centers in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MOE) at the community colleges. The colleges will offer a two-year National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) program.
“The NDA program,” said Mr. Bafaia, “is Liberia’s market-driven vocational agriculture program that prepares the country’s youth for careers in agriculture.”
The NDA, which was developed by the MOE with support from the USAID/FED, offers core courses such as crop cultivation, irrigation, soil science and animal husbandry as well as essential knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship, leadership and communication, according to FED.
“USAID/FED is equipping these Centers of Excellence with science labs in order to aid delivery of the NDA and ensure practical learning for students. It will also offer fee-based services to the surrounding communities and other educational institutions to help generate revenue for the upkeep of the laboratory facilities and equipment,” said Mr. Bafaia.
The USAID/FED is the flagship program under the Feed the Future Initiative of President Barrack Obama in Liberia and aims to increase productivity and profitability of food crops, stimulate growth of agricultural enterprises and build agriculture workforce capacity.
It focuses on staple foods like rice and cassava and food-based value chains, such as vegetables and goats that can assist in improving nutrition and income.
USAID/FED started with the NCCC in 2011 and at present, they have built an internet technology (IT) center with a modern computer lab and other facilities, according to Dr. Yar Gonway Gono, President of the College.
The local government officials, headed by Supt. Fong Zuagele, were in a happy mood as they toured the facility, which is fully air conditioned and equipped with modern laboratory equipment.
“This institution is the Center of Excellence for the citizens of Nimba and we are very happy with the interest which the government and people of the United States of America are showing in this country,” the Superintendent said.
“We want to thank President Obama and the American people for ensuring that the young people are skilful enough to feed themselves,” he said.