School gardening, an Agriculture component of academic activities in most schools, is important in improving Liberia’s food security.
Students are taught basic information about planting crops and maintaining them for better yield, and they (students) are made to engage in more practical work in ensuring that food is produced for consumption in the school and for sale in community where the school exists.
To enhance this, the USAID Food and Enterprise Development (FED) is partnering with the government to support a school garden initiative.
Approximately 100 schools in six counties, including Montserrado, Margibi, Bassa, Bong, Nimba and Lofa are participating in the USAID FED school garden program.
USAID FED supports the program by providing incentives as well as tools, seeds and fertilizers for agriculture instructors.
The Charles B. Harris Memorial School, located in Careysburg District, began participating in the program in mid-2013.
At present, the school has a garden covering 0.6ha, located right behind the school campus.
At least 40 students are members of the C. B Harris School Garden Club.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, students from the school disclosed that the program is greatly helping to improve their skills in Agriculture.
“Learning practical knowledge of Agriculture in the school is helping me to grow food at home. Some of my neighbors are attracted by my crops and the way I grow them. The crops grown are eaten at home, while some are being taken to the market for sale,” Jumah Sherman, 15, told the Observer.
Sherman, a 5th grade student, said although Math and Science were her favorite subjects in school, she hoped to study Agriculture at the university when she gets there.
“I have grown more interest in Agriculture because it makes one to become self-employed,” she explained.
For his part, Wamah Paul, 13, was happy that crops grown in the garden were the ones cooked at the school and surplus taken to the market where the proceeds accrued thereof would support the school’s sporting department.
“We are always happy in school each day because we see our vegetables from the garden on the table,” Paul said.
According to Nathaniel Korvah, the school garden technician, the program is greatly imparting Agricultural skills in the lives of the children.
“We have taught the students agricultural best practices to equip them become farmers in the future through the support of USAID FED, and the government,” Korvah said.
This year, student gardeners have cultivated crops like water melon, maize (corn), peppers, okra and cow pea. The crops when harvested will support the school feeding as well as support the sporting department.
Korvah says there are challenges arising from destruction carried out by pests and parasites, but the group is using organic pesticides to fight them.
The group hopes to expand their field after the rainy season, and when the USAID FED no longer supports them, the C.B. Harris Primary School will be self-sufficient in growing vegetables.