The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the Government of Liberia has launched a project that seeks to support smallholder farmers to grow more maize in order to address the limited supply, or lack of quality animal feed in the livestock sector.
According to stakeholders in the sector, most feed utilized by farmers are being imported from neighboring countries which posed a problem to Liberia’s food and nutrition security.
Liberia spent nearly US$5 million annually to import meat products, statistic from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has shown.
The project, titled “Enhance Animal Feed Production through Maize Production” was launched on Monday, March 3, 2020 in Monrovia, attended by top government officials, including Wilson Tarpeh, minister of Commerce and Industry, George Tee Forpoh, Deputy Agriculture Minister for Regional Development Research and Extension, Varney Sirleaf, Minister of Internal Affairs and members of the private sector.
FAO Country Representative, Mariatou Njie who provided an overview of the project said approximately 959 maize farmers will benefit from the project in six districts of Bong, Nimba, and Bomi Counties respectively.
She said farmers will receive improved varieties of maize seed, tools and post-harvest facilities to enable them increase productivity and supply more maize on the market.
Madam Njie added that the project encourages farmers to grow maize on more than 200 hectares of upland and lowland in the targeted counties.
Making remarks at the occasion, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Wilson Tarpeh said that the project is significant to reducing difficulties facing the poultry industries.
“Animal feed is one of the highest per capital fees experienced by poultry farmers, so maize production is necessary to solve this problem,” he said.
Minister Tarpeh said under the Coalition for Democratic Change government agricultural projects are domestically driven.
“What makes this government different from the past is that every project coming in to the country are aligned with our domestic policy to enable farmers greatly benefit,” he said.
According to him, more monies were poured in to agriculture over the years and there are no tangible results.
“We have discovered that more than US$400 million was attracted for agriculture, but the outcomes are poor,” he asserted.
He said that the low productivity in the sector has been the lack of a strategic planning.
“Each project that came into the country for agriculture did not have a strategic plan, as farmers and stakeholders were not involved in to the planning processes,” he added.
The Commerce Minister than pledged his ministry’s commitment to work with FAO to make the project a success.
Varney Sirleaf, Minister of Internal Affairs said that his ministry is working to mobilize communities in the targeted counties to take advantage of the project for the betterment of their lives.
According to him, access to land for smallholder farmers is not an issue in the project counties.
Meanwhile, poultry farmers have welcomed the project and have called on FAO and the government to provide all the necessary support needed for farmers to make the project sustainable.
The poultry farmers stressed the need for farmers to have access to better extension services and business skills for them to commercialize.
They also underscored the need for government and partners to make increase investment in the livestock industries to help reduce meat importation.