President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has reiterated the need for Liberians to return to the soil and prioritize agriculture by investing more in the sector to make Liberia food sufficient.
By that, the President said, Liberians would be in the position to also contribute to the export sector of the economy and help bridge the enormous gaps within the balance of trade.
The Liberian leader is, therefore, encouraging Liberians to go back to the soil and engage in agriculture and food production as the rewards are “immense.”
“Though farming is hard work, when you worked hard and can see the results of your labor, it makes you feel proud of yourself,” she said.
President Sirleaf made the statement over the weekend when she participated in the harvest of three hectares swamp rice (Narica L-19) farm undertaken by the Community of Hope in Zubah Town, Duport Road.
The Liberian leader, who had a small backyard garden of rice, said Liberians could fight hunger in many ways including supporting farmers, providing funding through technical assistance, “but this can be most especially done by themselves getting back to the soil.”
She then challenged Liberians to use the uninhabited parcels of land around their communities to make small gardens and farms as this would help the country address the problem of food insufficiency.
Lauding the efforts of the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP), which continues to engage in agricultural activities, she said “Many times people come up with brilliant ideas, and begin projects, but they never lasted. CHAP has been doing this for so many years, so let’s commend them for that.”
She added that sustainability is continuing to improve, and expand on what one does to make it bigger and better; noting that this is how people excel and become successful. “There are many Liberians who stand around, criticize and find faults, while there are others—who are quietly working and are the ones making progress, moving ahead; they are the ones that will make Liberia a better country,” she noted.
For his part, a representative of the Farmer’s Union Network (FUN) reiterated that agriculture strengthens and sustains democracy, “because a country that is unable to feed itself may likely bow to the dictates of anyone that will feed her people.”
According to the FUN representative, farmers are so important because they produce food that feeds the nation.”
He then expressed FUN’s gratitude to President Sirleaf and her government for its continued support to the agriculture sector of the economy.
Therefore, FUN has called on all the farmers to continue the work they’re doing to produce food until they reach the point where they would achieve mass production to make food available and affordable.
In a remark earlier, Agriculture Minister, Dr. Florence Chenoweth referred to CHAP as one of the Ministry’s success stories in the agriculture sector, but urged them to do more.
Minister Chenoweth said the introduction of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is one of the many methods her ministry has employed to increase rice production, and “CHAP is the institution that has utilized this method very successfully.”
On behalf of the Women Farmers, Ms. Mariama Wilson appealed to the Liberian leader for assistance to fight hunger.
CHAP, a faith-based entity, was established in 2008. Since that time, the entity has been working in urban and rural communities with the aim to train local farmers, women and youths; to provide them with basic farming tools, and implement to increase their productivity and provide them with job opportunities.
CHAP is the development arm of Abide in the Vine Fellowship Incorporated, which seeks to reduce hunger in the country.