Former Agriculture Minister calls on government to prioritize seed production at CARI
Former Agriculture Minister Seklau Wiles has said that if the agricultural sector of Liberia will further develop there must be provision of quality and affordable planting materials (seeds) for smallholder farmers.
According to her, most smallholder farmers in the various areas of crops cultivation are finding it very difficult to access planting materials to increase production due to the high cost of the materials on the local markets.
Speaking to the Daily Observer via mobile phone, Mrs. Wiles indicated that government must ensure that smallholder farmers access seeds at an affordable cost.
“The Government must think on the need to subsidize the importation of seeds to make it more accessible for farmers on the market. We cannot develop the agricultural sector if farmers are still finding it hard to get seeds,” she said.
She mentioned that the government needs to pass the National Seed Act that is still lingering at the National Legislature.
Minister Wiles served as the last minister for agriculture under the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Prior to her appointment as minister of agriculture, she served as Deputy Minister for Technical Services at the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). Before that position, she also served as Deputy Minister for Administration at the same Ministry.
But since the end of the administration of former President Sirleaf, Madam Wiles has ventured in to agriculture to contribute to the economy. She manages a large vegetables and poultry farms in Suakoko District, Bong County.
Madam Wiles told the Daily Observer that she is very busy with the work on her farm and no longer following the political issues.
According to her, there is a need for Liberian farmers to be empowered so that they can produce their own seed, something she said that neighboring countries are now involved with.
“I’m no longer following those politics because I want to develop my farm. What I want the government to do is to support farmers to produce those needed planting materials. The farmers do not need cutlasses and hoes. Seed is what the farmers need,” she emphasized.
Madam Wiles said that the country is still importing seeds produced in other countries, adding that there is a need that the government further built the capacity of the Central Agriculture Research Institution (CARI) to produce the different varieties of seed.
“I have traveled to places like Ghana where the research institute is producing seeds for the farmers, something that we can also do. If the government of Liberia wants to make a difference like her subsidize the things that the farmers need,” She said.
“We are importing the effort of other countries. We need to develop our own seeds to solve the problem of planting materials,” she added.
She further said that there is a need that the government brings in to the country that will manufacture agriculture tools to make mechanize agriculture possible in all parts of the country.
The Former Agriculture Minister also said that Liberian poultry farmers are doing extremely well to supply the market with eggs but the importation of the product is however hampering their progress.
“We now have a lot of farmers producing eggs but the government is doing nothing to reduce the importation of the products to allow farmers make more money,” she said.