Garners praise for big success
Residents near Fartoma Compound in Tubmanburg, Bomi County were full of praises for the Administration of Dr. Zobong Norman, president of the Bomi County Community College (BCCC), when students of the agriculture department last Wednesday harvested their first produce from the college’s Agriculture Demonstration Site (ADS).
The produce included cabbage, eggplant, collard greens, pepper, okra, tomatoes, lettuce, corn, and watermelon, among others.
The farm located near the college is headed by coordinator Paul K. Tyes who, before the harvest, took the students through a brief lecture on the mechanics of planting, caring for and eventually harvesting the produce.
The excited agriculture students in their boots and jeans went through the exercise with enthusiasm and after the lecture, they followed instructions and gathered a large number of watermelons and carried some in their hands, while others hauled them in wheelbarrows to get them ready for sale.
The produce are grown on six acres of farmland and the college intends to add three more acres to increase the variety of crops cultivated on the farm to include rice, according to Henry Johnson, special assistant to Dr. Norman.
“The farm project is to give students 60 percent practical knowledge and 40 percent theoretical help so that after graduation they do not have to wait for anyone to employ them,” he added.
The dean of the department, Christopher D. Momo, noted that the project is also intended to expose the students to all aspects of agricultural in order for them to know the challenges involved in being a farmer.
“We have 85 students in the department who are excited to make agriculture their career after graduation so that they can establish their own farms as well as help their communities,” he added.
Momo stated that many of the people in surrounding communities where the students reside are asking questions because, as a result of how the students are being taught, they are managing their farms in their respective communities quite differently from the local farmers. “The students are making more progress and the communities are interested to learn their methods,” he pointed out.
“We are calling on Liberia’s international partners and their organizations like USAID, EU, and other INGOs to visit our campus and see what we are doing in agriculture,” appealed Momo.
Farm Manager Z. Edmond Greaves said that the success of the project indicates that Liberians can grow what they eat. “All we need is support from the central government,” he added.
Greaves stated that the college has presently received 200 acres of farmland from local authorities and elders of Bomi County to be used to grow oil palm that could be used to supplement the college’s financial allotment from the government.
When the idea of acquiring the land was raised, Finance and Development Minister Boima S. Kamara and Rep. Edwin M. Snowe each promised to provide oil palm seedlings for the 200 acres of farmland.
“What’s needed now,” according to Greaves, “are earth-moving equipment to clear the land,” for which he said outside support is needed.
“Our palm farm will give students more chance to learn by doing so that at the end of their studies, they will be ready to create jobs and make a living for themselves,” he added.
The college also has an animal husbandry section where they are breeding pigs. “Right now we are not doing production but breeding so that students can learn by doing,” said Greaves, adding that local community members interested in breeding would also be allowed to learn from the program.
At the official launch of the harvest, Bomi County Superintendent Samuel F. Brown could not hide his admiration for the BCCC Administration.
“I want to express my appreciation to the BCCC Administration for the wonderful project to encourage agriculture at this college,” Supt. Brown said, adding, “this initiative is one of the best in Bomi in the last 10 years.”
He declared, “I want to call on the Bomi County Caucus to provide for every available need to the BCCC to grow the college’s agricultural department, because Liberia’s future rests in what we can produce to feed the country.”
Meanwhile, Edwin Kpingba, also known as ‘political dahkpanah,’ could not hide his appreciation for the success of the project, and called on the agriculture students to make use of the opportunity.
Ms. Anita S. Bee, vice president of the BCCC Student Council Government, commented, “On behalf of the student government, we want to assure the administration of our support so that Dr. Norman and his team of visionaries can continue to bring new and positive developments to enrich the school.”
Meanwhile, officials who did not send representatives to witness the harvest were the Bomi County Caucus and the college’s Board of Trustees. “We invited them but none showed up,” revealed a member of the administration.