-Women say at rally to make county’s bread basket again
A group of women under the banner, Lofa Women for Progress (LWP) has launched an agricultural initiative to reclaim the county’s lost status as ‘Liberia’s Bread Basket.’
The possibility of achieving such an ambitious goal was echoed by one of the founders of the Security Experts Guard of Liberia (SEGAL), Lionel A. Keller, Jr. who served as the keynote speaker.
Keller said Lofa County has the potential to reclaim its pre-war status as the most productive county as recorded during the 1970s and 1980s. This, he said, is achievable but not with subsistence farming.
“We therefore need to graduate from this type of farming, and move to mechanized farming. This is the only way we can make it better. I know you women will get there,” Mr. Keller said as a challenge to the women.
He added, “we have come to enlighten the minds of our mothers, sisters and daughters, who have deemed it necessary to foster great prospects in the country’s agricultural sector. We would like to encourage you to continue to strive in this sector.”
He defined agriculture as the bedrock of the nation, “and with support from everyone, our women will work to meet the objectives of this organization.”
Mr. Keller urged the people of Lofa to rally around the women to ensure that the county regain its lost status in the sector.
He added that women have played a significant role in the development of the country through agriculture—a role that they need to retake to ensure that the country becomes food sufficient.
“I want to inform you that majority of our farmers are women, who represent more than 50 percent of the country’s farming population,” Keller said.
He said empowering women in the sector will assist them to fight poverty to the very end, nothing that LWP’s goals are achievable, but require a lot of work.
“In order to sustain the livelihood of the local farmers,” Mr. Keller noted, “we must mobilize resources to enhance the support for agriculture thereby improving their standard of living.”
He said the Ministry of Agriculture has a significant role to play in fostering LWP’s agenda, therefore, Keller called on the government to provide the environment to help women succeed in the sector.
Mr. Keller then provided a loan of L$200,000 to the group, to be paid in four installments.
LWP Director, Madam Youngor Sherman, assured Mr. Keller of the group’s readiness to work. She called on all Lofains for their support in awakening the spirit of the county.
She disclosed that with the help of one of the county’s leading agriculturists, John Selma and another prominent son of the county, Momo Cyrus, and LWP have acquired 50 acres of land to begin the initiative.
Mr. Cyrus is SEGAL’s CEO and managing director. He said agriculture is the way forward for the country’s self-sufficiency in food.
“We will not wait until this initiative turns into a national NGO. We want officials of government, especially those of them from Lofa to come and help our women,” he said.
Mr. Cyrus reechoed the need for the country to gravitate to mechanized farming to alleviate the intensive labor that farmers go through.
LWP was established in August 2010 with an initial membership of 100 persons, then 500 persons and now has exceeded 1000 members.
Agriculture is a major sector of the Liberian economy with 38.8% GDP (Gross Domestic Product), employing more than 70% of the population and providing a valuable export.