Mr. James K. Nyumah, a well-known farmer in Fuamah District, Lower Bong County went in to agriculture when he couldn’t find a job to support his family. This was in 1993 when he lived in Bong Mines, situated in the district, during the early years of the Liberian civil war that destroyed many lives and properties.
Bong Mines is where the German Iron Ore Company once operated before the civil war. But since the end of the war, as the result of lack of employment opportunity, the many of the residents have seen farming as the only alternative in the area.
Nyumah once worked for the company as a yellow machine operator.
Determined to provide food for his family, Nyumah said he started to cultivate a plot of swamp with rice in his community with support from the Catholic Relief Service (CRS). CRS supported relief efforts in Liberia, especially during the height of the war.
“Because I couldn’t find a job, I cultivated a portion of swamp land with rice. I was given seed rice to grow by CRS which I harvested to obtain 20 bags. CRS give me 40 bags of imported rice in exchange for the seed rice produced. It is this 40 bags of rice that I sold to start a table business,” Nyumah narrated.
Nyumah’s table business grew into a shop and later to a store in the community, which greatly inspired his dream for agriculture.
“I started the small table business and my profit increased to establish a shop which was later transformed to a store. This led me to purchase the first farmland of 100 acres, which I planted with rice. I did not have any money when I started the swamp project,” Nyumah further said.
Nyumah has used proceed of his farm to support his children’s education and has initiated development for people of his home town in Foya, Lofa County.
“Agriculture has made me truly successful. I have used it to support the education of my 12 children, some of who are today in college and other have obtained first and second degrees. I have also used agriculture to establish a school and clinic in my home town. These initiatives are greatly helping the Government improve the lives of the people,” he said.
But to Nyumah’s greatest disappointment, he has farmed for more than a decade without support from Government, something he has said is the serious hindrance to the advancement of farmers in Liberia.
“Imagine that I have worked in this district for more than 10 years without any support from the Government. Liberia cannot become food self-sufficient if farmers are not adequately supported,” he said.
“There has been no support from the Government since my farming venture, except for now that I am engaging the minister for agriculture. I would like for the Government to help us with machinery to expand production. We do not have processing opportunity to process our produce,” he added.
Nyumah said more Liberians need to be encouraged to prioritize agriculture.
“I am encouraging Liberians to take farming serious. If you have food, you are able to achieve many things. This country we are able to feed ourselves but farmers just need more support to increase production.”
Nyumah, who is now a prominent resident of Kakata, Margibi County, has become one of Liberia’s potential farmers. He has developed an300-acre upland rice farm that was recently launched by agriculture minister Jeanine M. Cooper; 25 acres of lowland rice; 325 acres of improved oil palm; and 150 acres of cocoa farm in the district. His farming life is supported by several businesses that enable him support his family and to contribute to the economic and social developments of Liberian communities. Nyumah hopes to attract support from the Government to expand his farm and to create more employment for the locals.