After taking over as Internal Affairs Minister, Varney Sirleaf promised to restore communal farming as a way of engaging local communities to make farms to enhance food security and undertake some community projects.
Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Agriculture provided the Ministry of Internal Affairs 1,400 one hundred kilogram bags of seed rice for distribution in five counties including Lofa, Bong, Nimba, Bomi and Grand Bassa, with the expectation that each of the counties will make farms, produce rice and report their progress to the ministry after completing a farming season.
In response, the people of Zeyeaman Clan in Zorzor District, Lofa County, have come to be the first to report progress to the Internal Affairs Ministry by presenting two 200kg bags of clean rice to the President of Liberia through the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The rice was accompanied by a 5-gallon container full of red Torgborgee oil and three roosters.
According to Zeyeaman Clan Chief, James Z. Tarnue, who presented on behalf of the group, the clan as a unit, as well as the 21 towns within Zeyeaman respectively, received seed rice. From what they received as a clan, they were able to get eighteen 100kg bags of seed rice, some of which they pounded to get out the two 200kg bags of clean rice for the President of Liberia.
While they are still making farms to get more rice, Clan Chief Tarnue said people of the clan are ambitious of using the proceeds to undertake their administrative building project, though such a project is binding on the government to undertake in every county where its administrative structures are functional.
“While we are waiting on the government to help, we need to help ourselves,” he said.
Chief Tarnue, on behalf of the people of Zeyeaman, commended Minister Sirleaf and Representative Mayamah Fofana for their roles in ensuring that the farm project was successful.
Expressing his excitement, Minister Sirleaf said when he appeared before the Senate for confirmation, he vowed to restore communal farming to help communities undertake some self-help projects, and through collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture they received some bags of seed rice and distributed them among communities to begin this project.
“We made 364 farms last year, and this is the first, the first that we are receiving from our farmers to be presented to our leader,” said Minister Sirleaf.
Minister Sirleaf, who projected a cheerful countenance that could not be clearly seen because half of his face was covered with a mask in compliance with health protocols, went on to say: “We are very pleased with that. We said before that, when you make the farm, you can sell the proceeds to engage in a project; maybe add an annex to your school, build your administrative headquarters where the Commissioner, Clan Chief, and Town Chief will work in one administrative headquarter, or an annex that pregnant women will wait until they get in labor before going to the clinic. We will deliver this rice and other things to the President of Liberia, and we say thank you for what you have done.”
Ayoubah L. Fofana, Assistant Minister for Communal Farming at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who also hails from Lofa, said: “I am very excited that, after distributing the seed rice last year, my people from Lofa can make me proud by bringing a portion of the proceeds to present to the President of Liberia. I have confidence in their hard work and I feel their determination of reclaiming the title of ‘Breadbasket of Liberia’, though we have a competitive county like Nimba.”
Mr. Fofana said the people of Lofa are determined to produce food, but the only hindrance they have is the bad road condition that impedes the movement of food commodities from there to Monrovia.
On reports about other counties that received the seed rice, the Assistant Minister for Communal Farming said he has received a report from Nimba that farmers have harvested their proceeds and are planning to make another farm.
In pre-war days Bong, Lofa, and Nimba were regarded as the breadbaskets of Liberia, which means these counties produce much of the local food that feeds the Liberian population.