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Farmers can be well-off
“I can tell you for sure that farmers can make money and be well-off, because agriculture is not a small thing,” said Jackson Dolo, as he walked visitors through his 3.5 acres of lush green vegetable farm planted with pepper, egg plant, corn, okra, cucumber, and bitter balls all of which he received from FAO and partners through ECHO funding.
“Look at this, this is money,” he said as he pointed to blossoming bitter balls and egg plants. “Last year, I built a three-room house and bought one motorbike called Honda Hero. In 2013, I have sold crops from this farm that gave me money, I mean L$64,880” or (US$890). His wife, Annie, said the farm was their livelihoods. “It’s through this farm that we eat, send children to school, and do other things.”
Mr Dolo, his wife, and five children have a sure way of making money: work hard, take their produce to nearby bigger markets in Gbarzon District and gold mining communities of Grand Gedeh County where committed customers are ready to buy upon arrival. “I hope to build a second house this year, five rooms, and when that is done, I will call you to come and see it,” Jackson added with a grin.
As a result of serious post-election confrontations in neighboring Côte D’Ivoire in 2010 and 2011, more than 120,000 Ivorian refugees sought refuge in Liberia, thus depleted food stocks of host families and communities where they settled. FAO and the Government of Liberia responded appropriately, first with a CERF Project in 2011. In early 2012, FAO and the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture increased support to Ivorian refugees and Liberian host families to produce nutritious rice and vegetables.
The Project, known as “Emergency Food Security Assistance for Ivorian Refugees and Affected Host Communities in Liberia”, started November 2011 with three phases, implemented in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland Counties for a total 7,500 households. It was funded by the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department or ECHO.
Just across the river from Jackson Dolo’s farm lie two thriving vegetable farms, cultivated by two host families, Daniel Sumo and Abenedgo K. Borbor. So far in year 2013, Daniel, 30, and his household have earned L$44,500 or US$600. “FAO, local implementing partner SAP (Sustainable Agriculture Program), and the Ministry (MoA) started helping me this year. They gave me seeds, tools, and fertilizer,” said Daniel.
He has already bought two bundles of zinc for his building project while Abenedgo, 28, is saving farm proceeds to enable him return to school and graduate before building a house. Martha Sumo, wife of Daniel Sumo, said: “I feel fine for this farm. We had nothing at all. Then one day, you people came, trained us, gave us seeds and tools, and today we have our own farm. We eat some and sell the balance because we want to build a house for a better future.”