The World Bank Group has disclosed that inter-cropping remains one of the longstanding cultural practices by farming households in Liberia.
In a day-long symposium held in Ganta recently, where an dissemination of Analytical Work on Welfare and Development in Liberia and looking at poverty and equity Global Practice, it was disclosed that the prevailing cropping system in Liberia is inter-cropping, with about 79 percent of the farming households practicing it.
Inter-cropping is the practice of growing two or more crops together in the same field.
Alejandro de la Fuence, who is the analyst, said majority of households do inter-cropping as a longstanding cultural practice, with 13 percent doing it as a crop risk strategy, while six to seven percent do it as a soil fertility management and labor saving option, but could not explained whether it was benefiting the country.
The report also indicated that cassava and rice are the most common crops produced in Liberia and that are being inter-cropped.
In the index displayed on percentage level, classified as “farming households cultivating crops,” cassava and rice were at 74 percent, vegetable 60 percent, maize/corn 34 percent, permanent/cash 33 percent, fruit, 27 percent, other tubers/roots 20 percent, legumes/oil 17 percent and other crops 1 percent.
But when it comes to farmers’ participation in specific crop marketing, vegetables take the lead with 71 percent, corn/maize 64 percent, fruits 59 percent, putting cassava and rice, which are Liberian staple foods, at the bottom with 37 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
This report indicates that, despite about 74 percent of farmers cultivating in both rice and cassava, the yield at the end of the year is not enough for marketing, something most of the participants say is due to inter-cropping.
Accordingly, a farmer who is involved in inter-cropping cultivates a variety of crops, and not concentrating on one crop for livelihood, something that makes it harder for that farmer to yield good farming results during the particular farming season.
At the meeting, one of the stakeholders observed seeing most of the bushes with abundant crops such as cocoa, coffee, wild cassava, pineapples and cane.
Many wonder whether, with continued inter-cropping, Liberian farmers will be able to increase crop yield for the country, especially the staple crop, rice.
The Daily Observer also established that most of the land conflicts across the country derive from farmland ownership, resulting from the proliferation of rubber farms, particularly when the price of rubber increased in 2010 and after this period, the price of rubber again dropped and most farmers abandoned their farms, leaving the rubber trees overtaken by bushes.
The question that remains on the lips of many farmers is whether the government will get involved in reducing inter-cropping, in order to make farmers focus on one crop for sustainability as it is being done in some countries.