Maryland County Agriculture Coordinator, Christian Neckie Natt, has cried out for a lack of adequate manpower for the sub-office of the Ministry of Agriculture in Maryland.
Christian Natt made the call during a mobilization awareness meeting with farmers held both in Pleebo and Harper Cities. Coordinator Natt described it as unfortunate for the sub-office to have only three extension staff, instead of six. “Due to the shortage of manpower, each of the extension staff works in two districts,” coordinator Natt disclosed.
He then named Mr. Tumu Williams and Peter Koffa as the only two agriculture extension personnel that are working with the office in Maryland, which he described as unprecedented and posing a serious hindrance to the effectiveness of the agricultural sector of the county.
“Tumu Williams works in Pleebo and Karluway districts, while Peter Koffa works in Harper and Barrobo, respectively,” he pointed out. Coordinator Natt lamented that both men are working hard and doing the work of additional two persons in their districts of assignment. We are just three that are doing all of the Agricultural works in the county, whereas Maryland County should have had six extension staff in the county, Coordinator Christian Natt said. Despite all the challenges and the lack of enough manpower. We are trying to make sure to visit our farmers in order to provide them with necessary information from the ministry,” he explained.
He then disclosed that there are two agricultural projects that are active from the Ministry of Agriculture; the RE-TRIP project and the STAR project, which primary focus is to work with rubber producers, while the STAR project is for oil palm producers,” he explained.
Natt also disclosed that there is another project coming up that will be implemented by the extension team of the Ministry and that won’t involve people from headquarters in Monrovia. According to him, the project is a smallholder agriculture food and nutrition project, to be exclusively implemented by the local team in the county to rehabilitate 50-75 hectares of lowland.
According to him, there is a rehabilitation of 25 hectares of land that will be done in Pleebo, electoral district #2 while 50 hectares of land will be done in Harper, electoral district #1, respectively.
“The office is doing all it can to produce rice that will help citizens to grow our staple food that will subsequently reduce the huge level of importation of rice, because it has been noticed over the years that whenever the roads get deplorable, the price of rice increases. So, what the office is doing now is to make our county self-sufficient in food production, mostly rice,” Coordinator Natt added.
The Maryland County Agriculture Coordinator disclosed that to make their dream come true, the ministry has provided two giant-size machines with the capacity to process 2.2 tons of rice per hour, which is 18 tons in 8 hours, because the mill is built to run just eight hours a day.
“The mill is currently situated in ‘Chinese farm’, at the local office of the MOA. But again, we need to go beyond what we are doing now”, he cautioned.
Meanwhile Mr. Natt further noted that rice production is not the only activity in the county. They are also involved with the production of cassava and fish, sponsored by the European Union in five counties. According to him, the Agriculture sub-office in Maryland is working closely with local farmers through a medium-scale empowerment program, to provide them seeds, tools, chemicals and training.