Say they can do much more when equipment is provided
The Management of the Makona River Rice Farm has disclosed that it has harvested 100 hectares and is targeting 1,000 hectares of swampland in a year round of rice farming.
The Monrovia Representative of the Makona River Rice Farm, Oretha S. Bundoo, said though the process was not easy, the organization remains focused on increasing the production of rice. Production of the country’s staple requires the farmers to clear upland and irrigate the swamp to sow the seeds or transplant the seedlings, and it compels farm mangers to provide training for the workers to understand well how to go about plating.
Mrs. Bundoo said the issue of rice production in Liberia cannot be overemphasized, and Makona River Rice farm is poised to take the lead in production in the Lofa area. They are producing rice in two locations, Sorlumba Township and Kolochoe, all in the Foya District area.
Lofa County, once regarded as Liberia’s Bread Basket, is seeing the Nimba and Bong Counties follow suit.
“If we have equipment like swampland Rice Trans-planters, Rice nursery seeders, tractors and Rice threshers, which are cardinal to increasing rice production in Swamps, we will address the issue of food in Liberia. We have people who are willing to invest their energies to help solve Liberia’s food crisis, mainly rice,” Mrs. Bundoo said.
Mrs. Bundoo said even though the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in June this year donated a brand new power-tiller machine to the Makona River Rice Farm to boost its rice production, there is still a need for the MOA to focus on getting farmers ready before the farming season starts.
“The beginning of the Farming season in Liberia shouldn’t be limited to April, some farmers will like to be operating year round. We are also appealing to the government and partners to introduce a buy-back or incentive-based program for rice growers in this country,” she said.
She said rice growers in Liberia are at the mercy of poorly structured rice buyers or millers, and they take growers’ paddy rice on credit without paying; an issue that is limiting growers from expanding in their productions every farming season.
“Rice growers are willing to work hard and expand rice production in Liberia and, with an organized buying rate of paddy rice and an incentive to rice growers, we can change the issue of rice production in Liberia,” she said.
Celebrating the first harvest of 100 hectares, the management of the Makona River Rice Farm expressed its commitment to support the hard-working local farmers by sharing the knowledge of irrigation or water management, rice transplanting with without the hands, lowland plowing, weeds management and harvesting.
Mrs. Bundoo expressed gratitude to the workers for ensuring the realization of the harvest and promised to continue to provide support. According to her, the Makona River Rice Farm has over 100 workers, of which 60% are women.
She said Makona River Rice Farm and local farmers are answering the call by the President of Liberia and the Minister of Agriculture to increase rice production in Liberia, especially in the Lofa County region, but some local farmers are afraid that millers will take their rice on credit without paying and, when they complain, they become blacklisted.