“No Encouragement for Urban Farmers”

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Farmers at the Old Road Junction urban agricultural site

Farmers opposite Old Road Junction say

Despite interest expressed by the Liberian government to prioritize Agriculture to reduce poverty among rural and urban dwellers engaged in farming activities, the country’s urban farming sector is still faced with numerous challenges.

Some of the challenges still experienced in Liberia’s urban agriculture sector include lack of access to land, unclear land tenure policy, the lack of skills, unfavorable markets and the lack of storage and processing facilities.

Urban farming is the growing of crops and raising of animals within and around cities.

The Liberian civil war, coupled with search for opportunity, has caused urban migration such that Monrovia has become a densely populated city with 1,010,970 people according to Worldometer 2019 report. Amid this huge concentration of people that makes it difficult for many to find jobs, some residents of Monrovia have since adapted themselves to farming and it is a major source of income to support their families.

Urban and peri-urban agriculture was launched in Liberia in 2011 to create jobs for the urban poor to increase food production in Liberian cities. The program existed for 5-years, supporting farmers with training, inputs provision and addressing the issues of market constraint. it was supported by several non-governmental organizations, working in the country’s agricultural sector as well as the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).

But since the end of the program, not much attention has been paid to urban farmers to motivate them in their pursuit of sustainability.

A view of the large portion of swampland engaged by the Old Road Junction community farmers.

Mamie Kerkula, a mother of 4, told the Daily Observer on her farm that urban farmers in her community are finding it very difficult to grow food due to lack of support from government and partners. She and 40 other farmers are occupying a large area of lowland around the Old Road Junction in Sinkor, Monrovia, growing potato greens, water greens and other kinds of vegetables.

She said that securing land for long-term farming purpose is a serious constraint facing them.

“We have been permitted by those claiming ownership of this land to grow crops, but we are not very sure how long we might stay to cultivate our crops. We hope that the government can find a suitable area to continue our farming without embarrassment,” she said.

Liberia is yet to draft a policy on urban land use for agriculture purposes. Most lowland areas that are ideal for growing crops are rather owned by individuals rather than the government.

Korpo Fahnkollie, of the same farming community, complained that the price of fertilizers has increased.

“The price of a 50kg bag of fertilizer has increased to L$10,000. We also spend a lot of money on labor costs. These conditions always affect our profit, thus causing us not to have much income to support our families,” Korpo said.

Korpo also said that farmers in her area are experiencing the problem of thefts, stressing that people go to their garden during night hours to steal their greens and vegetables.

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