Two agro-entrepreneurs John Selma and Rebecca Kalayi were among several personalities honored on Friday, July 21 in Monrovia by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for their remarkable contributions to Liberia.
Held at the Centennial Pavilion the occasion commemorated the celebration of Liberia’s 170 years independence and was attended by top government officials, members of the religious community, the private sector and among others.
John Selma is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Selma Agriculture Development Company (SADC) in Voinjama District, Lofa County. Because of his passion for farming, Selma received a micro finance loan of US$100,000 in 2015 to purchase paddy rice from hundreds of smallholder farmers in communities in Lofa. He established the SADC which enables him to increase value addition for rice by processing 704 metric tons (14,080 50kg bags) and supplying 5000 25kg bags of rice to the World Food Program for school feeding, under the Japan-Liberia food aid program.
Selma has also been involved in supplying locally produced rice to the Government of Liberia for distribution to government employees and orphanages. Because of his accountability and outstanding leadership skills, Selma has co-invested with the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) to bring to the country an industrial rice processing mill that has the capacity to produce 10 metric tons of rice daily.
Rebecca Kalayi is an agro-dealer, social advocate and relief worker, who currently manages an agro-inputs business based in Saclepea, Nimba County. Since 2005, Rebecca has also occupied the position of executive director for the Center for Women Agricultural Program, an organization which assists thousands of rural women, especially farmers in realizing their full potential for sustainable livelihood. She is also the national president of the Agro Dealers Association of Liberia (ADAL) that advocates the need for quality agro-inputs services delivery for smallholder farmers in the agricultural sector.
Selma told journalists at the end of the program that he was thankful to the people and the government of the United States as well as the Liberian Government for building his capacity. “I am not surprised at the honor because I have worked harder in providing an income opportunity for Liberian farmers. We look forward to the industrial rice mill that will require that farmers in Lofa graduate from manual to mechanized farming,” the promised.
“For the past five years our activities to working with farmers have led to the reduction of poverty in farming villages and has increased food production,” he added.
He said that there are plans to extend processing opportunities to farmers in other parts of the country.
For her part, Rebecca Kalayi said that she was pleased about the recognition but asked for more assistance that would further build the capacity of agro-dealers to work with smallholder farmers.