Appeals for Assistance to Expand
By Dumalo M. Traub
Smith Falsee, a father of four, has spent many years growing vegetables in his Barnersville community, a suburb of Monrovia, for income in order to sustain his family.
This farming season, with meager resources, he has planted a variety of vegetables including bitter-ball, pepper, corn, okra and cabbage. But Falsee is faced with financial constraints to purchase fertilizers to apply in order to boost yield.
Pest control is also a serious challenge faced by Falsee, as he cannot afford the finance to buy chemical to spray the cabbage which is very difficult to grow.
“I have a great passion for growing food crops in my community. But I and other farmers are lacking assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to enable us expand production,” he told the Daily Observer.
Since the end of the civil war, a growing number of people in Monrovia and its environs are involved into urban and peri-urban farming activities for income generation.
Although the government has expressed interest to support urban and peri-urban agriculture, there is no strategy by the MOA which has the mandate to create the enabling environment for the urban poor to improve their living conditions through farming activities. Most of the farmers in Liberian cities are lacking adequate extension services to improve.
Only a few NGOs are assisting farmers.
Falsee, aged 50, told the Daily Observer that engaging in farming activities in major cities in the country is profitable but will require more support from the government.
“I need money to hire people to develop more areas of the land that I intend to cultivate. I could even grow rice this farming season to reduce my spending for buying imported rice to feed my family, but there is no money to pay people,” he said.
The civil war did not permit Falsee to pursue further education. After the war, he became a farmer to sustain his family.
“During the war I was a builder and never had the opportunity to go to school. When the war ended, because I never had any other means to support my kids I decided to do agriculture in my community,” Falsee said.
According to him it is through agriculture he has been able to support his children in school and feed his family.
“The farming provides food for my family, pays school fees for the children as well as settle the house rent. If only I am supported by the government I will improve the living conditions of my family and don’t think I will need to have any other job,” Falsee added.