Liberia: EU-funded Integrated Rice-Fish Farming Project Extend Fingerlings Supply to New Beneficiary Groups in Gbarpolu
At least two towns, Takpoimah and Smith Town in Gbarpolu County, have recently received supply of five thousand fingerlings and fish feed each.
The distribution is meant to boost integrated rice-fish production in the county; thanks to the European Union-funded project, DeSIRA Integrated Rice Fish Farming Project (IRFFS).
This is a research and extension development based initiative aimed at improving food security and nutrition in Liberia, it is under the Integrated Rice Fish Farming System (IRFFS) Project of the EU.
The DeSIRA-RIFFS project aims to improve food and nutrition security by transforming low-yielding, climate-risky traditional rice-fish production systems into more climate-resilient, high-yielding, resource-use efficient systems in Liberia.
At the same time the project targets 174 household farmers in each of its implemented counties — Gbarpolu, Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Margibi, and River Gee.
What was said about the fingerlings supply?
The farmers, receiving the supply of fingerlings, lauded the efforts of the Government of Liberia and development partners to strengthen food and nutrition security in rural communities.
“On behalf of the farmers, we firstly want to thank our Government and we want to thank the European Union and other development partners like the FAO, and United Arab Emirates that are working hard to ensure food and nutrition security in Liberia, especially in the villages. This is an activity that we want to make common in this town, like how we grow other crops,” said Madam Hawa Patricks, chairperson of the farming group in Takpoimah. “This is not stopping here; we will surely pass down this integrated rice fish farming skills to our children,” said Madam Hawa E. Patrick of Tokpoimah.
Smith Town and Takpoimah enrolled in the project following the success of the integrated rice-fish farming system in other towns in the county. Takpoimah is known for producing vegetables and the inclusion of IRFFS could establish other income streams for farmers and provide much diversity in dishes to the locals.
Also, Smith Town, an artisanal-mineral mining town, seeks to explore other initiatives to boost its food and nutrition security. The introduction of the IRFFS technology is another economic activity that could immensely contribute to women empowerment, economically.
Speaking at during the presentation in the County, AfricaRice Country Representative/Project Coordinator of the DeSIRA-IRFFS project, Dr. Inoussa Akintayo, has also reaffirmed support from the project to farmers.
Akintayo said: “We are working for you to improve your conditions. So we are proud to partner with the UAE project FAO is implementing to make things happen here. Another thing that I am excited to see is that majority of you people are women. In our project, women are very important. We have promised the DONOR and the Liberian government that this project will empower at least 60 percent of women in the project counties - Margibi, Maryland, Gbarpolu, Grand Gedeh, and River Gee.
How the IRFF System works
Under this IRFF system, farmers grow rice and fish together in a pond or field. Although this farming system requires intensity from the onset, particularly when constructing the ponds, farmers reap the reward of their labours. The IRFFS is also a climate-smart technology that discourages deforestation and encourages sustainable land use, such as wetlands.
The DeSIRA-IRFF project has introduced fast-maturing vegetable cultivation as another income stream for beneficiary farmers in the integrated rice-fish farming system. For instance, farmers grow lettuce and cabbage at the fringe of the ponds and harvest them two to three times while both the rice and fish mature gradually.
Fingerlings originating from the River Nile are multiplied at AfricaRice Liberia Station situated at the Central Agricultural Research Institute in Suakoko, Bong County. The project has so far supplied more than ten thousand fingerlings to beneficiary farmers since its inauguration in March 2021.
Who are those implementing the DeSIRA-IRFFS project
The EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice Fish Farming System project (IRFFS) is implemented by Africa Rice and World Fish in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).
Project Support So Far
However, since the project was officially inaugurated in March 2021, it has so far conducted a series of training on the IRFFS, supplied farm equipment to beneficiary farmer groups, supplied rice and fish seeds with a short maturing duration, and continues to render technical support to the beneficiary farming group.