Communal Farming The Solution to Poverty Reduction


Communal farming may be the solution to poverty reduction in Liberia, Mr. Joseph G. Sonpon, a retired field extension officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, has recommended.
Mr. Sonpon, 66, told the Daily observer in an interview in Monrovia Wednesday that farming — particularly communal farming — holds the key to take Liberians out of poverty.
“That is why I have come to you to tell the Liberian people that if the government takes my suggestion and provide what is needed to establish communal farming throughout the country, poverty will be out of Liberia,” he said.
Sonpon quoted an American agriculturalist, Thomas G. Hart who he claimed said if Liberians wanted to get out of poverty, the soil is the solution.
“Mr. Hart made the statement during the administration of the late President William V. S. Tubman in the 1970s,” Sonpon said, “and I took his challenge and in the course of time I was able to lead in the establishment of 37 communal farms in Grand Bassa County.”
Still quoting the American, Sonpon said, “Your land (Liberia) is fertile because we can plant palm tree and rubber, two of the most productive crops in the world.”
“While we are on it,” Sonpon said, “we can plant cassava to get us going.”
Sonpon still quoting the American said, “There are swamps around every place and community and we need to make use of them to grow what we will need.”
He said when he (Sonpon) established 37 communal farms in 1986, farmers and the people were happy because there was enough food in the system in Grand Bassa County.
On the government’s involvement in the process, Sonpon said, “the government must ensure that at least 60% of county development funds must be used to purchase farming implements, including trucks and caterpillars for the project nationwide.”
“Unfortunately,” he said, “there were some people interested to kill my progress and so they ensured that my dream was destroyed.”
He said at the time he spent US$2,700 to purchase sacks from the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation, (LPMC), which eventually he had to abandon.
Though he claimed during the period, “People began to fight me both physically and spiritually.” He even used the expression, “they kpankpan me and dragon swallowed my head,” till he got his life back, some years later.
He explained that the expression he used above meant some people he did not identified worked against him spiritually.
A vulnerable society in which headaches are sometimes blamed on the devil and witchcraft, Sonpon admitted life had been easy for him.
Though he said he possessed further details about the communal farming project, he decided to wait and see if the Liberian government would take up the challenge and act on his recommendation toward taking Liberians out of poverty.


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