BRAC Liberia’s Agriculture, Food Security and Livelihood (AFSL) program has ended a successful implementation of the Pro-resilience Pro-Act 2015 project sponsored by the European Union (EU).
The project was implemented in six food insecure counties out of 15 in Liberia; the project began in October 2016 and ended in September 2018.
In 2017, BRAC-Liberia and the EU held an inception workshop and launched the project, coded, “Supporting the Poor and Food and Nutrition Insecure to React to Crises and Strengthen Resilience,” which ended in September 2018.
The day-long Learning Sharing Workshop was organized in Monrovia on September 26 as a concluding event for the project that also organized six other similar Learning Sharing workshops in Margibi, Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa and Bong counties.
The Pro-resilience Pro-ACT 2015 EU project focused on climate smart agriculture, poultry and livestock production, and comprehensive homestead development for strengthening value chain activities.
The project also reached a significant number of community members through nutrition awareness, mother forum and resilient building campaign.
As implementing partner, BRAC-Liberia works in close collaboration with authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to support the Liberia Agricultural Transformation Agenda (LATA), which is one of the strongest pillars of the Weah Administration Pro-poor Agenda.
At the occasion, BRAC-Liberia Acting Country Representative, Aisha Nansamba, lauded all parties that made the project successful.
“When you do not acknowledge the lessons learned, you are bound to face daunting challenges,” Nansamba cautioned the farmers.
She encouraged them to seek quality outcome and improve their own livelihood, adding: “As the program fizzles out, farmers need to leverage on the training as well as train volunteers to continue enhancing their livelihood.”
Mrs. Nansamba said that BRAC, through working with local volunteers, farmers, community leaders, and the MoA, provided sustainability to the project both during the implementation phase and the phase out period.
She also said that BRAC-Liberia Food Security and Livelihood Program envision reducing food insecurity and malnutrition in Liberia, catalyzing a shift from subsistence to commercial farming.
She named capacity building; improved farming, livelihood and livestock rearing and nutrition awareness as some of the interventions made by the project which, according to her, achieved its overall program objectives.
Mrs. Nansamba also highlighted other programs BRAC-Liberia is currently operating, including the Microfinance, Health, Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents, Agriculture and Livestock production, Education and Targeting the Ultra Poor (TUP)/Graduation program.
Furthermore, she said that the entity has been operating since 2008 and over time expanded its operations to 10 counties.
EU Representative David Palacios said that strengthening resilience is cardinal to building a sustainable society, especially through agriculture and health.
Palacios highlighted community involvement in various development initiatives in the country as key to having maximum impact on vulnerable communities. The EU Representative praised BRAC Liberia for the successful implementation of the PRO ACT 2015 project.
Agriculture Minister Mogana S. Flomo said he has observed that 60 percent of the country’s population live below the poverty line with no food — a trend, he said, needs to be changed. To address such a situation, he called on Liberians to go back to the soil, adding, “we have spent half of the time paying attention to the extractive industries, which never yielded any tangible results.”
“There are no excuses that can be considered for failing to feed the population, because there are always opportunities that can be harnessed in improving the livelihoods of the people of Liberia, especially when the country is endowed with good weather, and soil to grow varieties of food,” Flomo said.
He the encouraged the farmers to transfer their already acquired skills in the sector to people desirous of becoming professional farmers.
He also commended BRAC-Liberia for helping the country in agriculture sector, but at the same time, called on Liberians be serious, “because agriculture is not a drama, and therefore, we will not become resilient as a country if we failed to change our mindset.”
BRAC International Agriculture Program Manager, Habibur Rahman Khan, underscored the importance of the project’s objective to enhance the capacities of vulnerable groups; to improve food crisis, and sustainably produce and access food.
He said the project activities were based on strengthening farmers through producer groups by selecting smallholder farmers for climate smart agriculture and vulnerable groups for poultry and livestock rearing, formed 300 producer groups comprising 20-25 members per group, one lead farmer selected from each group.
According to Mr. Khan, 5,200 smallholder farmers were developed on Climate Smart Agriculture technologies and comprehensive homestead development, 1625 vulnerable households received training and support on livelihood and livestock rearing, raised awareness of 6825 community members on resilience building (agriculture and disaster), 390 most vulnerable households supported with Cash for Work opportunities and converted 213 acres of bush land into cultivable land.
The project developed 260 Community Agriculture and Livestock Promoters to provide agriculture extension services to community residents, 27 entrepreneurs to support the value chain activities, strengthened 90 market actors to act as linking agents, reached 2,725 lactating, pregnant and child bearing mothers through mothers forum meetings, and also reached 5,260 households through nutrition awareness campaigns to promote diversified and nutritious food preparation, consumption and increased nutrition education
Furthermore, the project developed Disaster Risk and Vulnerability Assessment report, trained 40 community based organization leaders on disseminating available weather information on agriculture and nutrition, organized capacity building workshop for 50 government staffs, organized agricultural fair for disseminating modern technologies, and also established 300 demonstrations farm to disseminate the technology.