Global Agro Inc in partnership with the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA), a Feed the Future program of the U.S government, has launched a farm mechanization program that worth more than US $ 140,000.00 in Todee District, Montserrado County.
The program seeks to improve the productivity of Liberian smallholder farmers through farm support services, using various kinds of farm machines.
Todee district is situated in rural Montserrado County. Many of the citizens in that part of the county are farmers who still do agriculture at subsistence level.
LADA, a 5-year project that is about to phase out this year, has partnered with Global Agro Inc to improve the incomes of smallholder farmers under a cost share arrangement between the two entities.
LADA is implemented by the Cultivating New Frontier for Agriculture (CNFA), an American-based non-governmental organization.
In remarks, the head and founder of Global Agro, Joseph Morris, said his institution has partnered with LADA to procure the equipment, in order to transform the lives of smallholder farmers from subsistence farming to commercialization.
Morris maintained that farm mechanization is the surest way farmers in Liberia can greatly improve their living conditions to make the country food secure. He told his audience during the program that the machines are made available to support services to farmers at a reasonable cost to enable them to expand production.
According to him, the farm support services will not only benefit farmers in Todee district and its surroundings but other counties as well.
“The launch of this program shows that Liberia is getting ready for mechanization to increase the production of food. We cannot change the lives of farmers without making them commercialize. So the use of farm machines is very important toward this process,” he emphasized.
Morris further explained that the farm support services will provide employment opportunities for many of the young people who have taken interest in agriculture.
“We have nearly all of the different kinds of equipment that can be used for production and processing. With this opportunity, farmers will no longer worry about the market challenges as they can produce more to sell. Many of our young people too will be attracted to farming because of the equipment,” he said.
Ernest Nimely Wah, LADA’s Access to Finance Officer who spoke on behalf of the country director of LADA, Oscar G. Flomo, said that Global Agro was just one of those several agribusinesses that his institution has partnered with to improve the incomes of smallholder farmers.
He said for the last years, LADA has strengthened the capacity of several agribusinesses, to ensure sustainability for smallholder farmers.
“We have empowered processors, agro-inputs dealers, and aggregators. The main objective is to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers sustainably. Also, we have worked with cocoa and fish farmers through the provision of farm equipment and training capacity in improved farming techniques,” he narrated.
He added that LADA has brought into the country two integrated rice processing mills installed in Lofa County, and one of them will soon be commissioned.
“These mills will ensure clean and quality processed rice for local markets to help reduce rice importation. We have also given cassava processing equipment to some beneficiaries to ensure market opportunities for farmers,” he further stated.
Wah said that though the project is about to phase out, a lot has been accomplished by his institution to strengthen the country’s food system. He named the different kinds of farm equipment procured for Global Agro under the cost of shared arrangement as a mini-farm tractor, power tiller, rice planter, thresher, and rice processing mill.
Also speaking at program, the Deputy Agriculture Minister for Planning and Development, Robert Fagans, stressed the need for Liberia to prioritize mechanized farming in order to make the country self-sufficient in the production of food.
He said that to ensure that mechanized agriculture becomes possible, his ministry is working with international partners to develop a policy framework on mechanization that will drive the process.
“The government of Liberia sees farm mechanization as the way forward to growing more crops and improving the lives of the many smallholder farmers. However, there is a need that we have a policy in place to promote mechanized farming for a sustainable agriculture sector,” he emphasized.
The Deputy Agriculture Minister used the occasion to urge the farmers to make use of the opportunity provided them by Global Agro in order to improve their living conditions. For his part, Montserrado County District #1 Representative, Lawrence Morris, thanked Global Agro and LADA for creating opportunities for farmers in his district.
He encouraged the farmers in his district to work harder in producing food to support their families. Meanwhile, Representative Morris has promised to rehabilitate several farm-to-market roads within his district so that farmers can easily market their farm produce.