About 500 rice farmers in six of the fifteen counties of Liberia, including in Lofa, Nimba, Bong, Bomi, Montserrado, and Grand Gedeh counties, are expected to benefit from the Scaling Up Climate Resilient Rice Production in West Africa (RICOWAS) project. RICOWAS is a regional rice project aimed to increase the production of rice within the region.
The project, which is expected to be launched in the country soon, intends to improve the resilience to climate change and increase the productivity of the rice system of smallholder farmers throughout the West African region, using a more climate adapted approach.
It was introduced by stakeholders over the weekend in Paynesville during a one day steering committee meeting.
Rice is a staple food for many countries within the region for sustaining food security efforts. The demand for rice is making or placing a heavy burden on public budgets and exposing the region to the volatility of world market prices.
In an exclusive interview with Rev. Robert Bimba, National Coordinator of RICOWAS project, he said the project is expected to support farmers to help increase the quantity of rice the country would need to feed its citizens.
According to Bimba, Liberia is among 13 countries in the region to implement the program.
Bimba, who is also the executive director of the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP), explained that his institution will support the farmers using the system of rice intensification (SRI), a resilient climate adaptation practice for rice cultivati
“This aim is to improve the resilience to climate change of smallholder rice farmers throughout the region,” he said.
Meanwhile, the project has set up a steering committee to ensure the sustainability of the program. The steering committee comprised the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, Central Agriculture Research Institute, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, the Rice Federation of Liberia and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), among others.
The RICOWAS is a four-year project being implemented in Liberia by the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP) in collaboration with the government and development partners.
Ten years ago, ECOWAS launched the rice project with the aim of achieving rice self-sufficiency within the region.
The project comes to Liberia at a time the government has expressed commitment to increase domestic rice supply. Government is showing commitment to support rice production from external sources with limited public funding.