To Make Liberia Food Self-Sufficient
According to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one in every five households in Liberia suffers food insecurity. The report comes following many interventions to make the country a food secured nation.
Most interventions in Liberia’s agricultural sector provide funds (grants or loans) for agro-inputs, manual tools and small-scale labor-saving devices. But the Liberia Integrated Farmers Cooperative (LIFC) has dared to go beyond the usual intervention horizon.
The cooperation has embarked on an improved rice variety multiplication project in the Johnsonville Township, Montserrado County.
LIFC co-founder Peter Flomo said that the improved rice variety has a high-yielding rate and can be harvested three times in a year.
“Some of our local lowland varieties are good, but rice spends longer time in the field, like the Suacoco-8 variety (red rice) that goes five to six months before it can be harvested. Such variety will not end the hunger that we want to,” said Flomo.
Therefore, he added, “We are telling farmers that if your swamp is a year-round water source, with the Nerica L 19 variety (another type of rice), you can produce three times in a year, and this is the real variety that is prepared to fight hunger.”
LIFC multiplication site is situated on a 1.8 hectares swampland in the Johnsonville Township. The site is also used to provide hands-on training for farmers coming from other parts of the country.
“So LIFC want to cultivate 250 hectares in the next three years,” Flomo said.
He however disagrees with government’s decision to reduce tariff on imported rice, “because the exercise makes the country vulnerable as it would continue depending on foreign rice-growing countries to feed its people.”
“Dropping tariff on imported rice will only make us more food dependent on other nations. For example, if there is a crisis in China, Liberia will be the victim since most imported rice comes from that Asian country and other countries,” said Flomo.
Additionally, Flomo said that farmers cannot fight hunger on manual agricultural tools like hoes and cutlasses, but an agricultural experience exchange program will be an ideal start for Liberia’s rice sub-sector.
Despite LIFC’s ambition, limited capital, logistics, and opportunities to improve farmer capacity, there are staggering challenges in the rice-sub-sector that the entity would be prepared to overcome.
In February this year, rice importers agreed to reduce the price of a 25kg bag by US$2, while the price of a 50kg bag was reduced by US$4. The change in price came after President George Weah held a two-day meeting with rice importers.