The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Internal Affairs recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Monrovia that aims to revitalize communal farming in an effort to increase the level of food production in the country.
Communal farming is a farming strategy where rural people are encouraged to grow food as a group of residents in order to advance various community projects. It is being implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in collaboration with rural authorities. Over the years, communal farming has failed to contribute significantly to promoting food security due to the lack of funding and the unwillingness of community members to participate as proceeds of the farming system were not properly accounted for by rural authorities.
However, Agriculture Minister Mogana S. Flomo expressed optimism that the communal farming initiative will increase the production of food in the various counties. He said the government wants to reintroduce the farming system so as to support the school feeding program.
“We will ensure that every clan in each district make farms with crops that are needed for the school feeding program. This is one way we think that communities can be involved to contribute to the success of the program. There are some communities that are good at growing crops like corn that we would like to support,” he said.
Dr. Flomo mentioned many challenges hampering the production of food and said that his ministry is working to address the constraints in order to make the Pro-Poor Agenda a reality through agriculture.
“The Ministry of Agriculture plays a very crucial role to ensure that the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda is achieved as we are responsible to create jobs for the reduction of poverty and to sustain food security. But the agricultural sector faces numerous challenges, including limited private sector participation, high and inefficient production system, poor market system, limited research capacity, limited extension services, and many others,” he said.
He explained that considering the many challenges, the Ministry of Agriculture has drafted a plan which, when implemented, will create an enabling environment for smallholder farmers to produce more food throughout the country. “The Liberia Agriculture Sector Investment Program (LASIP II) has been crafted to address the many challenges facing agricultural production,” he said.
“The farming population of the country still remains high, and the majority of the farmers are subsistence farmers who cannot even afford adequate extension service. We must work harder to change this trend,” he added. According to him, there is a need to employ more youth with agriculture skills if the sector would improve the extension service.
He also stressed the need to build the capacity of the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) so as to improve research activities in the sector. “We must improve the capacity of CARI so that the necessary technologies can be provided to farmers,” he said.
The Agriculture Minister further explained that the ministry is working to attract more investors into the sector in order to improve the various crop value chains.