FAO supports food production, nutrition and income generation opportunities in Liberia

FAO supports food production, nutrition and income generation opportunities in Liberia

25/06/2013

Support to farmers for food production, nutrition and income-generation opportunities is swiftly underway in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland Counties in Liberia. Funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the project, entitled, “Food and Nutrition Security for Ivorian Refugees and Host Families in Liberia”, caters to 500 households in Nimba County alone (200 upland rice and 300 lowland rice) for the first phase.

Sarkorlay, a town with a population of over 3,000 residents, is an agricultural community in Gbelegeh District, Nimba County just a few miles from the border with Côte D’Ivoire. FAO, and the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), in conjunction with the Agriculture Relief Services that serves as local implementing partner, in April began the distribution of hand tools, fertilizer, and three kinds of improved lowland and upland rice seed including WITTA 4, FKR-19, and Suakoko 8 which are MoA and FAO certified and take only three months to harvest.

Elizabeth Gontee, 40, is a host farmer with five children from Zorlepula village near the town of  Sarkorlay. She could not restrain her satisfaction: “Today, I am happy. I received 25kg of swamp rice. The other day, I received the tools I need: fertilizer, twine, and boots. In three month’s time, I hope to have enough food for my family and seed for planting next year.”

Nuah Dro, 42, is an Ivorian refugee with three mouths to feed. She underscored the difficulty she experiences in fetching food for the family. “The food business is sometimes hard here for us, and we are far from Monrovia. This makes things very expensive and difficult. We are going to plant this rice for me and my children to have enough food and seed for next year’s planting.”

The distribution exercise in Grand Gedeh County catered to 1 000 (400 lowland rice and 600 upland rice) beneficiaries while in Maryland 1 000 beneficiaries (400 lowland rice and 600 upland rice) are being reached. Beneficiaries in Zleh Town, Pouh Town and nearby communities received improved three-month duration rice seed including LAC 23, Suakoko 8, and NL-19 and with much satisfaction, loaded wheelbarrows and commercial motorbikes and headed back to their farms.

Doh Boniface, 45, is a refugee. He recalled FAO and MoA’s assistance last planting year that enabled his family to put two meals on the table every day. “The Government, SAP, and FAO’s assistance was very good. In fact we are selling some of the pepper right here in front of you” he said pointing to several piles of hot pepper on sale.

In the village of Gbalaken, Maryland County, MoA Senior Extension Officer Josiah Davis, urged farmers to use the rice seed to plant and produce more food, rather than to eat it. “When you receive the seed, you should start planting, so that next year you have plenty to eat.” The 52 year old town chief of Koluson Village, Maryland County, Wellington Nyancie, expressed gratitude for the hand tools, fertilizer, flashing tapes, and seeds and pledged to lead his 59 member group “to grow better rice for my family and keep rice seed for next year.”

Liberia continues to host up to 64,450 refugees most of whom live in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland  Counties mainly along the borders. The CERF project is a joint UN humanitarian enterprise in which FAO implements the crop production aspect while WFP  caters to the rehabilitation of small- scale lowland irrigation schemes through Food For Asset interventions.