By Chris F. Pewu (Intern)
A former acting Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Isaac Flowers, wants President George Weah’s government to focus on agriculture to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign imports.
Speaking recently at a day-long workshop organized by the National Fish Farmers Union of Liberia (NAFFUL), Flowers said if the government makes agriculture one of its pillars of development, the country will move into mechanized farming.
He said Liberia has one of the most fertile soils in the world, and therefore the land is a garden that should be used to produce the country’s staple food, rice.
Flowers wants the government to allow each county to produce food to contribute to the country’s fight against hunger.
For instance, he said Lofa, Bong, and Nimba counties used to produce rice; and Lofa County was described as the country’s breadbasket. He said River Gee County is a lowland and therefore could be the biggest producer of lowland rice, and talked about Nimba County’s ability to produce plantain that could feed the country.
He suggested that the government should identify soil structures in all of the counties, adding, “We want our country to export food to other countries to be able to earn foreign exchange.”
The former Deputy Agriculture Minister made references to at-risk youth, described as zogos, as one of the government’s sources of manpower for any eventual agricultural revolution.
Min. Flowers said proper farm to the market roads are some of the major embarrassments to farmers that the government should address with urgency for any future agricultural revolution to be successful.
“If the Liberian government can empower farmers with some of the issues we have raised here to be able to produce food to feed the country then the government must urgently put more money in the sector,” he said.
Other speakers included Benjamin Tarnue, who explained to the 30 participants the background of the project’s objectives and the activities of the workshop. He also discussed how to prevent conflicts that are associated with food insecurity.
The theme of the seminar was ‘Enhancing conflict prevention and peace consolidation through increased food security in the fishery sector in support of UNMIL.”
There were also remarks by representatives of UNMIL and the European Union in support of the effective management of conflict as it relates to food security.