Several farmers in five communities in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties have adopted the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) practice to improve their yields.
SRI is a methodology aimed at increasing the yield of rice produced in farming. It is a low water, labor-intensive, method that uses younger seedlings, small spaced and typically hand weeded with special tools. This technology is being practiced in 13 countries in the West African sub-region as part of a strategy to increase rice production.
In Liberia, the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP) is working with smallholder rice farmers in eight of the 15 counties to promote the SRI practice in order to improve the productivity of farmers in rice cultivation.
64 year-old farmer, Madam Bowolo Sumo, informed the Daily Observer on Thursday, August 1, 2019, during a tour of their project in Tubmanburg, that they are impressed about the new method learnt in growing rice.
She said in the past, they used the traditional method to grow rice but in the end, they would harvest little quantity.
According to her, they were encouraged to join CHAP to acquire new farming skills to improve their living conditions.
Madam Sumo is the head of the New Road United Women Agriculture Project. She said that her organization was established in 2017 to encourage women to invest in farming to sustain their family. Her organization has accumulated a membership of 24 individuals, majority of them women.
“We have developed 78 plots with rice seedling using little amount of seeds, which was provided by CHAP,” she said.
According to Bowolo, every farm (family) in the group is entitled to a plot that is being developed during the farming season.
However, she said that her organization is faced with numerous challenges, including climate change, pest infestation, and the lack of power tiller to plough their field.
Willington Yeedoun, leader of the Clay Agriculture Project in Bomi County, boasted of how members of his organization were increasing their productivity.
“We are now in our third year practicing the SRI, and having good yield from rice farming. The knowledge we acquired is being transferred to other farmers in nearby communities. We use little amount of rice to plant, sometimes 10kg bags of seed rice, and harvest 50kg bags,” he said.
Yeedoun said that CHAP gave them a mini-power tiller, which is helping them to expand their farmland.
Moima Kamara in Senii Community, Grand Cape Mount County, said that with support from CHAP, they are encouraged to engage into farming activity in communities around the Sime Darby Plantation.
She told this newspaper that farmers in her community are in need of more support to improve their farming activities.
Robert Bimba, CHAP executive director, said that more than 80,000 farmers in Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, Montserrado and Margibi counties are currently practicing the SRI technology. He said that the farmers under the program are being provided with seed rice, tools and mini power tillers to develop their farms.
According to him, his organization is working with the farmers to promote the ‘Love the Liberian Rice’ campaign, which was launched sometime this year.
“We are working with our partners to address some of the challenges facing our farmers in those targeted counties.