Agriculture Minister, Jeanine Milly Cooper has stressed the need for more Liberians to get involved in urban agriculture as a way of ensuring food and nutrition security for their families and the country.
According to Minister Cooper, with the experience of the Corona virus outbreak that caused basic food items to be inaccessible on the local market for many Liberians, it is important that more Liberians learn to grow food in their back yards.
She made the remark over the week when she launched a 6-month Triumph Garden pilot project at the University of Liberia Fendell campus.
Triumph garden is a form of agriculture that is carried out by people to ensure food in their homes, particularly during crisis period.
The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) with support from the World Bank has partnered with AgroTech, a youth development driven organization to implement the Triumph garden project.
The project is aimed at supporting several farming clusters, as well as schools in Paynesville City and Careyburg City with basic farming materials and seedlings to enable them to produce more for their families and the market. It is one of the many components of the MoA food, nutrition and livelihood security CoVID-19 response intervention.
In April last year, the MoA developed a COVID-19 response plan that seeks to support smallholder farmers to mitigate the effect of the virus on their farming activities.
Speaking during the launch of the project, Minister Cooper maintained that unless Liberians learn to grow more food for themselves, it will become very difficult for the country to feed its citizens whenever there is a crisis.
She said that Liberia still depends on other countries for its food supply and there is a need that the country focuses on producing more food.. “COVID-19 plan focused more on how to empower farmers to grow enough food to support their families,” she said.
She noted that the Triumph garden project, sponsored by her ministry will attract more youth and women to grow food.
“There is a need that we encougage the young people in to agricultural activities. This project will also benefit women and people with disabilities. it is just one of the many projects that is being put together by the Ministry to help improve our food and nutrition security situation,” she added.
The Executive Director of AgroTech, Jonathan Stewart promised his organization’s commitment to implement the project in order to better the lives of young people in the agriculture sector.
According to him, due to the economic hardship faced by most Liberian youths, AgroTech was established to make young people tp become productive citizens.
“We are to work with youth and women in Paynesville and its environs to set up backyard gardens to keep community members busy,” he explained.
Stewart mentioned that they have indentified potential farming organizations that will work to drive the project in others communities.
“This program is being designed by the Ministry of Agriculture to assist community members who are enagaged in urban garden activities. We are to also work with several schools to establish gardens to produce food within thier communities, he said.
Stewart has meanwhile called on partners to support his program so that many youths in the agricultral sector can be empowered.
A beneficiary of the program, Hawa D. Varney, from the Mamie Pepper Group of Farmers in Lower Careyburg District, said that they were pleased of the intiative.
“We would like to thank the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture for creating the opportunity for urban farmers to improve their faming activities. We want more support in the area of urban farming to ensure sustianability,” she said on behalf of her group.