Madam Josephine Francis, owner of Ajay Farms in Careysburg District, Montserrado County, has been elected as the first vice president of ROPPA, a regional West African farmers’ organization with headquarters in Senegal.
Madam Francis serves as the current president of the Farmers Union Network of Liberia (FUN) and is a former representative of Montserrado County.
She told journalists recently upon her arrival that she will use her preferment to prioritize the improvement of women farmers in agriculture in West African countries.
“This is one of the main agenda [items] for the organization, ensuring that women farmers have the opportunity to improve,” she said.
According to Madam Francis, women play a significant role in agriculture activities in West Africa but most often lack the needed support.
“The population of women in farming in the sub-region is 43 percent, so there is a need that we make the agenda of women paramount. This is why even in Liberia we are always supporting women farmers, but we need to accelerate our support for them,” she said.
She disclosed that ROPPA is working to attract more funding for agriculture to improve the lives of farmers.
Madam Francis explained that agriculture is the way forward for the Liberian economy, because the country still faces employment challenges, particularly among the youth.
“We want the government to make more investment in agriculture. When we begin to invest more into agriculture, it will lift the majority of the citizens from poverty,” she said.
She regretted that Liberia is not doing enough toward agricultural production because the political will is lacking on the part of the government.
“There are many policies that are being crafted to increase the production of food, but these policies are not implemented by the government. We need to improve more farm to market roads to enable farmers to transport their commodities to the market.
Madam Francis stressed the need for the government to provide loans for farmers to expand production.
“The government recently infused US$25 million into the economy. They need to find more of such money and give to farmers as a loan,” she said.
She said FUN will continue to engage the government, to have it provide more support for agriculture.
She also spoke on the need for the government to make agriculture attractive for the youth by prioritizing mechanized farming.
“Many of our young people are being educated through family farms (subsistence farming) but the youth will be encouraged, provided they see agriculture from such a perspective,” she said.