The Senior Pastor of Providence Baptist Church (PBC), Dr. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr., has encouraged religious institutions to invest in Agriculture, such as in the cassava sector, to help enhance food security in the country.
Dr. Reeves said the involvement of the church would make a significant impact on the lives of many Liberians amidst the evident food insecurity.
The Baptist preacher made the statement recently when he was called to offer the benediction at the end of the launch of the National Data Collection National Data Collection on Cassava Value Chain and the official opening of offices of the National Cassava Sector Coordinating Committee.
The program brought to the fore over 100 farmers across the country, Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth and senior officials of the Ministry as well as international partners.
Dr. Reeves urged farmers to work together in unity and move from Sustenance or Subsistence Farming to Mechanized Farming to make farming a business.
He hailed international partners for helping to sustain food security in the country, describing their help “as from mat to mattress.”
He committed the Providence Baptist Church to be the first church to engage in Mechanized Farming beginning with the cassava sector to lift cassava through value addition.
Providence Baptist is Liberia’s first church. It was there that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 26, 1847 to make the country a sovereign state.
“Let me also challenge religious institutions and the church to get involved and let me say to the Cassava Coordinating Committee that if you don’t have any church involved, the Providence Baptist Church will be the first in the process.”
His assertions might have stemmed from various speakers’ admonition but especially from the US Embassy Economic Officer Caroline Dow, who said cassava can contribute to the country’s food security and reduce rural poverty.
“Cassava cultivation has the potential to contribute substantially to socioeconomic development both in the rural and urban areas. Investing in it and the value chain has a positive impact on food security to improve livelihoods of farmers, producers, processors and traders,” Madam Dow said.
Agriculture Minister Dr. Florence Chenoweth, who also spoke at the program, stressed the need for Liberians to intercrop rubber with cassava to increase production.
It is observed that despite the urgent need to improve food production, there are many rubber farmers only engaged in rubber production rather than food crops.
The National Cassava Sector Coordination Committee (NCSCC) is a national body set up through a public-private initiative to regulate the activities and development of Liberia’s cassava industry.
It was set-up through a European Union fund which is being implemented by ZOA and ADRA in Liberia.
The four-year project, which began in 2013, is value about US$2.2 million dollars.
The Project, known as the Cassava Value Chain Development, is presently ongoing in Bong, Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu Counties.
Cassava is a food crop that is entwined in the lives and culture of Liberians and can reduce hunger and a supplement to the country’s stable food, rice.
Liberia has a favorable climate to grow cassava in large amounts and processed into a variety of products to be sold in local and foreign markets.