Agriculture Minister Seklau E. Wiles has stressed the pressing need for more financial and technical support to the agriculture sector.
Addressing participants at the close of a two-day extension service strategic consultative workshop to revamp and strengthen extension services for sustainable development of the agriculture sector at the Central Agriculture Research Institute in Suakoko, Minister Wiles said agriculture development begins and ends with the research on which lands to extend and then to the farmers.
Over one hundred and fifty (150) agriculture extension workers from across the country were invited to form part of the consultation in formulating a more robust extension strategy to address farmers’ needs.
She emphasized that the two-day meeting was the beginning of a strong agriculture extension service that would enable farmers to grow more food.
The ministry has embarked on the process of revamping and strengthening extension services across the country for the sustainable development of the sector, Minister Wiles said.
She indicated that when agriculture extension workers are fully trained and efficient in their work, farmers will in return get the benefits to improve their farms, leading to the increase in food production. Effective extension services eventually lead to farmers adopting new techniques and simple farming practices that reduce the cost of production, said the Minister.
- Minister Seklau Wiles:‘We Need Strong Agriculture Extension Service’
“We are now training our extension officers to effectively work with farmers across the country, monitor farmers and provide regular updates from the counties to the ministry through the usage of our GPS system on the various smartphones that are assigned to them,” she said.
“At this consultative workshop our County Agriculture Coordinators (CAC), District Agriculture Officers (DAO), Livestock Officers (LO) and Plant and Quarantine Officers (PQO), who have been trained over the years, are also reporting to us on progress in their respective counties and making recommendations to further improve our services.”
She said even though the Ministry of Agriculture currently has under review the Animal Disease Law, efforts are ongoing to assign livestock officers to each district in the country.
“We already have in place the strategies on rice and cassava, which are all part of the country’s agriculture transformation agenda, and we are now increasing the capacity of our staff as part of efforts to meet our farmers’ demands,” Minister Wiles noted.
“Support to agriculture is crucial to lift Liberia, and the just ended gathering has given us a greater understanding of where the agriculture sector will be in the coming years.”
Facilitators were drawn from the Ministry of Agriculture. The topics discussed included the relationship between CAC and project focal persons; roles and responsibility of CACs and DAOs; food security and nutrition; and mainstreaming gender in agriculture.