China-Aid Agriculture Technology Cooperation Project, based at the China-Aid Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center in Suakoko, Bong County, on Saturday August 25, began harvesting a hybrid rice variety in Foya, Lofa County, to the delight of local officials and farmers.
The project is funded by the Chinese Government and implemented by LongPing High-Tech Agriculture Corporation, Limited, from China, as well as the Agriculture Infrastructure and Investment Company in Liberia.
Lirong Su, China-Aid Agriculture Technology Cooperation Project Rice Specialist, who spoke through an interpreter, said the project’s mission is to help rebuild agriculture in Liberia, following the devastating Ebola crisis of 2014 and 2015.
Mr. Lirong said at present, his organization is conducting premium rice varieties extension in Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties, in order to apply the good experience from the Kpatawee Farmer-based Organization to other rice producing areas, particularly in China-Aid operating community.
“In the early stage of the project, the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI), our traditional partner joined us to conduct rice research and rice varieties selection. We also tried to operate on Farmers’ Cooperative at Kpatawee Farm in Bong County, when the Kpatawee Farmer-based Organization had achieved good yield and income by applying know-how of technical collaboration between us and CARI,” Mr. Lirong said.
He said that at the three rice extension programs, China-Aid Agriculture Technology Cooperation Project provides seeds, agriculture input, rice technical training, and also purchases and processes the rice seed after harvest.
Mr. Lirong said that the measurement of these three extension programs adds up to 210 hectares, something he said will greatly improve rice production skills for farmers.
According to him, the Agriculture Infrastructure and Investment Company (AIIC) is one of the leading agriculture companies in Lofa County that undertook the premium rice extension program. AIIC, Lirong said, collaborated with China-Aid Agriculture Project and also received technical support from CARI as well as from the local administration through the county’s agriculture office.
He recounted that the AIIC carried out a 50 hectares premium rice extension program in Foya (including upland rice), among which 22 hectares are Chinese hybrid rice.
Mr. Lirong said that in the process of extension, the company and the farmers carried out techniques such as wetland nursery, scientific fertilizer application, scientific water control, diseases and pest control, to ensure high yield of the extension farm.
“In order to benefit more farmers, we hope AIIC would abridge experiences in the process of extension, fully apprehend the advanced rice production skills to transfer it to more rice farmers and rice farming group in this area,” Lirong said.
He pledged China Aid Agriculture Project’s commitment to providing seed and some other inputs and conducting technical training to more farmers, “because this way we can add more contribution to the country’s agriculture development.”
CARI Director General Dr. Marcus Jones called on farmers to take rice production into their own hands and fight to reduce rice importation in the country.
According to Dr. Jones, the importation of European and Asian rice will only be reduced if farmers, including all Liberians, turn away from eating imported rice. He added that food security is human security.
Jones used the occasion to extol the Chinese for the technical and material support to the farmers, and then called on farmers to take advantage of the Chinese hybrid rice, because the duration for harvest is shorter and the yield is higher than that of the country’s traditional rice.
He also challenged the people of Lofa County to return to their pre-war status of being the country’s “food basket.”
Foya Statutory District Assistant Superintendent for Development Moses Sonjor lauded China-Aid for the support. He said China remains one of the country’s biggest contributors to post-war development drive since 2006.
Sonjor said that the Chinese have immensely contributed to the country’s infrastructure and agriculture development over the last 15 years resulting to increased access to basic social services across the country mainly through grant to the Liberian government.