By George Harris and Judoemue Kollie
The Ministry of Agriculture along with development partners, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP), the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) and others yesterday celebrated World Food Day.
The program under the theme “Change the Future of Migration, Invest in Food Security and Rural Development,” was characterized by a press briefing, stakeholder dialogue, an exhibition of local food products and a display of farm equipment.
The Minister of Agriculture, Madam Seklau Wiles, said during the program that Liberia has significantly improved food security given the reduction in rice imports by the government.
“Current statistics show that rice imports have reduced, which indicates that smallholder farmers are producing more for domestic consumption,” she said.
She however clarified that Liberia is still food insecure, but with more funding being provided to the sector, hunger can soon be eliminated.
“This is the time we must take ownership of our agriculture sector to become self –sufficient,” she stated.
The minister said the effect of internal migration is obvious in the Liberian society as people are still leaving rural communities to live in the city, but added that the Ministry is working with development partners and other ministries to ensure that people ‘remain in places they originally love to live.’
The FAO Representative in Liberia, Marc T. Abdala, said despite the widespread perception of migration, one in every eight persons move from rural communities to the cities.
He said rural poverty, food insecurity, lack of employment and income generating opportunities, inequality, and limited access to social protection, climate change and depletion of natural resources due to environmental degradation are some driving forces of rural migration.
He added that more investment in sustainable rural development, climate change adaptation, agriculture, and rural development are concerted actions on migration.
He took the opportunity to express his institution’s commitment to working with the government on rural migration to improve food security in Liberia.
For his part, WFP Country Representative Dr. Bienvenu Djossa applauded the Liberian government for its support to the “Zero Hunger Strategic Goal.”
“I’ll like to thank the Liberian government and its people for the overwhelming support in championing the course of the ‘Zero Hunger Goal’ in Liberia,” he said, adding that policy formulations as well as human resources mobilization, and human capacity developments were crucial to the improvement of food and nutrition security.
He noted that WFP remains committed to its support to the Liberia government’s effort in ending hunger by the year 2030.