The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Liberia in July have completed the handover of sixty-six pieces of farm machinery to twenty-one women farmers’ cooperatives engaged in rice and vegetable production in four counties: Bong, Foya, Gbarpulo, and Lofa.
The 66 farm machines cost over one hundred and three thousand United Stated dollars ($103,000). According to the FAO Representative in Liberia, Madam Mariatou Njie, introducing modern farm machines to farmers is changing the face of Agriculture in Liberia.
Presenting the first set of twenty-four farm pieces of machinery to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, the International Project Coordinator of FAO in Liberia, Madam Mariatou Dagnoko said “the hard works of land preparation, harvesting and threshing paddy rice will be lifted and done in few time duration now with farm machines”. She added this event is the beginning of series of handing over farm machines to farmers within the project’s four implementing counties.
The project, under which these farm machines are handed over to farmers is titled: ‘Promoting Increased Resilience and Sustainable Income Generation, Food Security and Nutrition for Rural women’, is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of United Arab Emirates. The project seeks to empower rural women through skills training for the improvement of their production (rice, vegetable, and poultry production), the promotion of adapted financing of their livelihoods in four main counties (Bong, Nimba, Gbarpolu, and Lofa) in the country.
The project will contribute to increasing farmers resilience, income generation, food and nutrition security in Liberia” remarked the FAO Project Coordinator as she turned over the farm pieces of machinery to the Deputy Agriculture Minister for Research and Extension, Dr. George Tee Forpoh.
Passing onto the farm pieces of machinery to the Internal Affairs Minister for onwards presentation onto farmers on behalf of the President of Liberia, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Forpoh applauded the United Arab Emirates Aid and the Food and Agriculture Organization in their efforts to change the face of agriculture in Liberia by supporting farmers with modern farm machines. On behalf of his boss, the Minister of Agriculture (Madam Jeanice Cooper), he said the Ministry appreciates the efforts of the donor and support of the Food and Agriculture organization in boosting agriculture in Liberia.
Presenting the first set of farm machinery to the farmers, the Internal Affairs Minister, Varney A. Sirleaf gave a brief background stating that the President of Liberia, His Excellency George Manneh Weah in 2019 visited the United Arab Emirates, where he strongly advocated for the investment in the agriculture sector and for support for smallholder farmers. . He applauded the efforts of President Weah for making such appeal on behalf of Liberian farmers.
He appealed to FAO to continue to support farmers with the farm technology – which the support should not be one-off to ensure farmers adapt and are able to run with the modern farm machines, which would help the farmers to reduce poverty, continue to support communal farming to help reconciliation and to consolidate peace. He urged the farmers to make good use of the farm machines for the intended purpose to increase their areas of cultivation and production. In his conclusion, he warned the farmers that both his Ministry and Ministry of Agriculture will be conducting joint monitoring to see how these farm machines are being utilized by the farmers.
According to the National Agronomist – FAO, Ambrose Forpoh, a total of twenty-one women farmers’ cooperatives benefited from the sixty-six machines handed over. Twenty-four pieces of farm machines were handed over to eight women farmers groups in Lofa, fifteen pieces to five women farmers’ groups in Bong, twelve pieces to three farmers’ groups in Nimba, and fifteen pieces of farm machines to five women farmers’ cooperatives in Gbarpulo.
Presenting the second set of fifteen (15) farm machines (power tillers, rice harvesters, and threshers) to farmers in Tarkpoimah, Zuo, and Dewah communities, Gbarpulo County, the Regional Agriculture Coordinator, Edmond Greaves expressed profound thanks to the United Arab Emirate AID and FAO for the support to women farmers through the donation of farm machines to ease labor on the farm. He thereby admonished the beneficiary groups to properly utilize and maintain the farm machines so that their farm production will increase and productivity improves as well.
Acknowledging the importance of farm mechanization in changing the face of agriculture in Liberia, the Commissioner of District # 3 in Gbarpulo, Alfred O. Bai said the support to women farmers comes at the right and most required time; when the labor force in communities (younger male folks) has been depleted through mining and commercial motorbike riding activities in the county. He added that the introduction of farm machines would indeed help to lessen the burden of excess and time-consuming farm labor off the shoulders of women and thereby increasing their farm production and productivity.
In response, the Chairlady of Tarkpoima Women Farmers, Madam Hawa Patrick on behalf of the beneficiary communities: expressed profound thanks and appreciations to the United Arab Emirates Aid and the Food and Agriculture Organization. She also thanked President George Weah for his personate appeal for support to farmers and assured them that they will work harder to increase their yields. She appealed to the implementing agency, FAO for the provision of a stipend for community technicians that are helping women in their farm works.
She said with a stipend being provided to community technicians, they will stay in the communities to support the women farmers and the project would also help retention and transfer of knowledge to others in the communities.