By Judoemue Kollie & Simeon S. Wiakanty
The Farmers Union Network (FUN) of Liberia has introduced a new project that is aimed at advocating challenges that confront smallholder farmers through which the government can formulate necessary policies to improve farmers’ productivity.
The project titled, “Promoting Greater Farmers Participation for Policy Change,” is sponsored by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), and will run for six months in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and rural Montserrado, Bong, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Bassa counties.
The official launch of the project was held on June 19 in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, which brought together more then 20 smallholder farmers from four of the targeted counties.
It can be recalled that recently, OSIWA donated six lap top computers and six motorbikes to FUN to implement the project.
FUN president Josephine Francis, informed reporters that the project is expected to improve the lives of smallholder farmers, because the organization will demonstrate the commitment in working with farmers to identify their challenges to engage the government.
“This is another milestone for FUN to implement such a project, since we are working with the government in advocating for needed policies to improve the living conditions of farmers to make Liberia a food secured country. This project will hire six program managers and extension offices in the affected counties to see what the farmers’ plights would be.
Madam Francis, who is also former representative for Montserrado County District #1, said that the farmers are confronted with lots of challenges, including climate change that is making the farmers vulnerable in the agriculture sector.
“The government must provide more funding in the national budget for agriculture to enable farmers over come the effect of climate change. Our inputs as an organization in crafting the national plan for agriculture will come directly from the farmers, but it is unfortunate that Liberia has delayed in aligning itself to the “Malabo Declaration” for food security. This instrument calls for the government of every African country to allot ten percent in the national budget yearly for agriculture,” she said.
Madam Francis thanked OSIWA for the equipment and promised to use them for the intended purpose.
The National Coordinator of FUN, Julius M. Bass, said the program is intended to ensure that there is a shift in making right policies in the agricultural sector, most especially when it comes to farmers full participation in decision-making to enhance food production.
Mr. Bass added that over the years, there have been lots of issues that affect the farmers, which policy markers need to address.
“Agriculture will not move forward if government fails to address those major challenges that confront the farmers,” Bass said.
He wants the government allot more money in the budget to FUN, which is an umbrella organization for farmers to work effectively.
“Land ownership for farmers is something that needs to claim the attention of lawmakers to move farmers’ lives forward,” Mr. Bass suggested.
During the launch, each of the farmers spoke separately about government subsidies to enable them increase productivity. They spoke also about the government bringing into the country inputs and mechanized equipment to make them graduate from subsistence farming to commercialized farming.
It may be recalled that in 2014, Heads of State and Government of the African Union, met at the 23rd Ordinary Session in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea where they stressed the need for government to support Africa’s Agriculture for transformation, shared prosperity and improved livelihoods of farmers through harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development.