The newly appointed Minister of Agriculture Seklau Wiles says improvement on extension delivery services to farmers will be her main focus.
Madam Wiles made the disclosure to the Daily Observer last Saturday in Sackie Town, Bomi County, where she visited farmers in that region.
Extension delivery service to Liberian farmers is still a major challenge for the country’s agriculture sector.
The minister’s visit was prompted by recent media reports that several farmers in Bomi County lacked access to planting materials, mainly rice seeds for this farming season.
Mrs. Wiles, former deputy minister for technical services at the Ministry of Agriculture, replaced Dr. Moses Zinnah, who served from September 2015 to May 17, 2017.
“Our visit to farmers in Bomi was to assess their needs in order to provide necessary assistance. We will continue to make extension delivery a priority because agricultural development begins with extension. It is important that we continue to work directly with farmers,” she said.
“We noticed that many of the farmers made farms last year but failed to preserve some of their seeds to plant. Therefore, we are working to identify those needs to enable us provide them.”
According to her the farmers identified will be given improved rice seeds to commence planting as soon as possible.
She added that farmers who are registered by the MOA in the fifteen counties are to shortly receive inputs, such as fertilizers, seeds and cassava cuttings.
“We have already commenced the delivery of inputs to farmers beginning with those in the southeast. It is expected that by the middle of June, we shall have completed the provision of inputs,” she added.
Recently, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf launched the “Zero Hunger Strategic Report” in Monrovia that calls on world leaders to work harder to end hunger by 2030, under the United Nations’ mandate.
Meanwhile, Madam Wiles said Liberia can reduce rice importation provided more attention is given to farmers to produce right locally.
“We can produce enough of our staple food (rice), if mechanization is encouraged among our farmers. This is why we are now assessing their needs to know the kind of support to give. We would love for our farmers to farm on the same plot year after another, using mechanized equipment. This will enable the scientists at the ministry to find out their problems and find solution that will lead us to increase rice production,” she said.
The County Agriculture Coordinator (CAC) of Bomi County, Christopher Momo, told this newspaper that more than 20,000 registered farmers in the county will benefit from MOA inputs.
He said his office was involved in varying the inputs needs of farmers but logistic is a serious constraint.
Momo mentioned that although farmers in Bomi were making progress, issues such as land preparation and access to improved seeds were major challenges confronting them.
“Before citizens in Bomi County were considered as people who lacked interest in agriculture, but we now have a lot of potential farmers who are striving to promote food production in the various farming villages. The support from the MOA and its partners will greatly enhance productivity to dispel the notion that the people of this county are lazy,” he stated.