By Ben T.C. Brooks
Authorities at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has begun training smallholder farmers from the Southeastern part of the country in improved skills of rice production.
The training which aims to enhance rice production in the country is part of teaching the trainees in modern techniques and strategies that will enable the farmers to increase their yields.
Harry Wonyene, a monitoring and evaluation officer of the Smallholder Agriculture Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC) project, recently told reporters in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County that the government has installed rice mills in four of the five counties in the Southeast empowering the farmers to produce 18 tons of rice per day to promote processing opportunity for smallholder farmers.
“The government has decided to increase the country’s rice production as the means of ending food insecurity by empowering farmers through capacity building,” Wonyene said.
He said that the SAPEC project is working along with many smallholder farmers in Grand Gedeh to sustain food production.
The training which is being facilitated by ‘experts’ from Africa Rice, gathered farmers from across Grand Gedeh and other Southeastern counties.
Africa Rice Country Representative Inoussa Akintayo, expressed disappointment in Liberia for continuously depending on foreign countries for food, despite being blessed with fertile soil.
He added that considering Liberia as a country endowed with fertile soil, it should not continue to import rice, rather increase local production.
Liberia spends approximately US$200 million annually to import rice, according to statistics from the Ministry of Finance Planning and Development.
Based on the statistics, Akintayo cautioned citizens to focus on programs promoting sustainable food production as donor supports was gradually drawing down.
He expressed the hope that the training will enable participants the opportunity to increase rice production in their respective counties, “even through backyard gardening.”