Farmers practicing the newly introduced “conservation agriculture” around the ArcelorMittal concessional areas in Nimba County, recently exhibited their first farm produce at the mini agricultural fair in Zortapa, Nimba County.
About seven groups from within Zor Community participated in the exhibition, which brought together scores of community members, including chiefs, elders, youth, students, and women and among other.
Farm produce displayed at the fair were mainly vegetable products including beans, corn, cassava, pepper and ground pea (peanut).
Speaking on behalf of the citizens of Zor community, Paramount Chief Joseph Y. Yormie stressed that short term training was not enough to give the citizens all the knowledge required to stand alone.
He said there had been many training around the East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR) but neither of them yields any result that could sustain the citizens and stop them from fencing around the nature reserve.
He said looking at the exhibition, he thinks, the conservation agriculture will be sustainable and beneficiary to the citizens of Zor and therefore called on authorities of ArcelorMittal and its implementer—RICCE—to extend the duration of the project and also include the remaining communities within the Zor Chiefdom.
RICCE is implementing for ArcelorMittal to teach the farmers living around the ENNR to shift from the old farming method to new one.
In January last year, RICCE introduces a new farming method called “Conservation Agriculture” in and around the communities surrounding the ENNR.
In conservation agriculture, according to RICCE, the farmer doesn’t require burning the farm after brushing, but rather go ahead with their planting their crops and also the farmer has the opportunity to continue farming on the same spot over and over with less energy.
The Forest Development Authority and citizens of Zor reached an agreement in 2008 to co-manage the Northern Nimba Nature Reserve after years of hurdle between FDA and communities over the surveying of the reserve.
On the tour of some demonstration sites, the program manager Renee Gibson explained that individual farmers are getting involved and carrying on their project other than the group.
She further explained that farmers are now being taught to build their own organic fertilizers so as to keep their crops fertilized.
According to our Nimba Correspondent, vegetable crops seen at the demonstration sites of the newly introduced farming method looked fresher than that of the old farming method where burning of bush is done after brushing.
“The money you take to fell will be used to pay your child’s school fees, so the conservation agriculture is good,” said one Peter, a farmer.
However, Zor Community residents have called on ArcelorMittal’s authorities to include tree crop in the program and also extend the training duration so as get more insight on the new method.