… after Completion of Farmers Field Schools Program
In continuation of revitalizing the Liberian cocoa sector and bolstering “technical knowledge” at a community level, the Solidaridad West Africa-Liberia’s Office has completed a certification honoring program for 1916 farmers from Bong, Lofa, and Nimba counties. The program, which was separately carried out in the three counties, came after farmers completed a 10-month intensive “Cocoa Farmers Field Schools” program that the Solidaridad Office in Liberia conducted under the Liberia Cocoa Sector Improvement Programme (LCSIP).
In Bong county where a batch of 490 Farmers was certificated, Liberian agriculture authorities admonished farmers to go beyond donors’ projects that are being implemented in Liberia in order to spur domestic and regional agri-trade.
Kollie Nahn, Bong County Agriculture Coordinator, challenged farmers not to be complacent with their achievement, but said that they must act on the knowledge gained to increase production that will bolster domestic and regional agricultural trade.
He said that the Liberian government and development partners are working to create a conducive environment for agricultural growth, but condemned the perception that the Government is responsible to make farms.
“We should not think that the national government will plant cocoa all across the country; this work is left with you and myself after you have accumulated these set skills.”
“We [farmers] in my mind are the only group of people that can help this economy now and we need to invest our all in this sector to produce products that will be bought domestically and regionally,” said Nahn.
Sylvanus Agordorku, participatory Farmer Training Specialist at Solidaridad West Africa- Liberia’s office (SWA-L), who gave the overview of the “Farmer Field Schools” program, said that his institution’s approach is to strengthen “technical knowledge” of farmers at a community level particularly in areas where the presence of extension workers presence was not felt.
“We cannot manage our own cultural practices without the availability or the presence of extension workers. So, to help the local people in their production practices, we have to train facilitators to accelerate extension delivery services,” he said.
Agordorku also said that the training lasted for 9 to 10 months and covered management practices ranging from nursery-management to cropping calender. According to him, 1916 farmers from Nimba (774) , Lofa (652)and Bong (490) benefited from the FFS cocoa program.
Also in Saclepea, Nimba, where another a batch of 774 farmers where certificated, Jeremiah Yangean, Mayor of Saclepea, lauded Solidaridad-Liberia for the “FFS” program. He said that the skills that farmers in Nimba have gained can reduce the poverty rate in the county if all the graduates act on what they have been taught.
He, however, called on farmers to extend their set skills to other farmers who did not benefit from the training.
Earlier, Bioma Bafaie, Cocoa Program Manager of SWA-L, said that his institution has the collaborating support from development-partners and the Liberian government; therefore, “farmers must work tirelessly so that in the next two to three years, the face of Liberia’s cocoa sector will be a changed one”.