The World Food Program (WFP) Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Abdou Dieng, says there is a need for continuous teamwork between the Government of Liberia and development partners to end hunger in the country by 2030 as mandated by the United Nations.
Mr. Dieng, who arrived in Liberia on Sunday, made the statement on Wednesday, when he visited a peri-urban agriculture project in Johnsonville, outside Monrovia.
He told journalists after touring the Orphan Grain Farmers’ Cooperative Agriculture Project (OGFC) in Johnsonville that he was impressed with the level of development undertaken by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration.
He called for the collective effort of Liberians to achieve the “Zero Hunger Goal.”
The Orphan Grain Farmers’ Cooperative Agriculture Project is one of many farm projects supported by the WFP to address food insecurity in Liberia.
“I have observed that Liberia has achieved a lot but there is a need for the citizens to come together to consolidate the peace and move to development activities. Liberia has the capacity to grow more food to end hunger, but this can happen only if the citizens work together,” he said.
He noted that Liberia needs to invest more in education and agriculture to sustain the country’s peace.
According to him, a major challenge facing Liberia is youth unemployment which can be addressed if Liberians are willing to focus on agriculture.
The Deputy Minister for Research Development and Extension at the Ministry of Agriculture, Thomas Gbokie, said that government is pleased with the WFP Regional Director’s visit and stated that Liberia remains committed to supporting agriculture to transform the country.
He lauded WFP-Liberia for supporting Liberian farmers and carrying out school feeding programs that are helping to keep children in school and improving their nutrition.
Peter Flomo, lead farmer of the OGFC said their project was initially supported by community members who felt that enhancing food security requires voluntary commitment.
“We encouraged farmers to work together to ensure food security and when the WFP noticed our seriousness, they came over to support us. We did farming through traditional practices but with WFP’s intervention, we now possess the skills to increase food production and support our families,” he said.
He said the WFP provided them with seeds, fertilizers and a rice mill to process rice for the market.
Ms. Emma Smith, the head of the local NGO that is implementing the project for WFP, stressed the need for the farmers to be empowered with power tillers to increase their productivity.
It may be recalled that President Sirleaf and other heads of government met at a special summit of the UN in New York in September 2015 and agreed on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
SDG 2 highlights how important it is for countries to prioritize food and nutrition security to eliminate hunger by 2030 through investments in agriculture.