Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2024

World Food Day

Majongbeh S. Kamara

"We are very happy because more members are joining, thanks to the crops’ performance"


In Liberia, where few farmers have access to piped irrigation systems, agriculture production is still largely rain-dependent. That means that during the dry season, which is also the peak vegetable production season, they are left with the arduous task of watering their gardens manually.

"Daily, we had to walk several hours to the nearest streams to manually fetch water to irrigate the fields," says Majongbeh S. Kamara, the chairperson of the Gbegbedu Rural Women Group in Gbegbedu, Lofa County, in northern Liberia. "This was labor-intensive and unsustainable."

Today, the group farms on a four ha plot of land. Additionally, they have eight ponds for fish farming, where they are raising some 5,000 tilapias. For years these two enterprises were separate, but half a year ago the group decided to combine the two activities into the first integrated fish-vegetable production in their county.

The women converted the lands along their fishponds into productive fields to grow fresh vegetables. They then utilized the water from the pond, which is rich in nitrogen thanks to the fish manure and is ideal for irrigating and fertilizing the vegetables. In return, fresh potato leaves from the nearby gardens are incorporated into the fish feed to enhance their nutrition. So the system is a win-win for fish and vegetable farmers without the use of agrochemicals.

The group acquired these skills through an exchange visit to an agricultural development and training centre in the Republic of Benin, Centre Songhai, facilitated by FAO.

"With the new approach, we now have sufficient water to irrigate the vegetables," says Majongbeh. "We also do not have to buy fertilizers as the waters from the ponds are already rich in plant nutrients."

The new system allows them to produce vegetables in all seasons and with less time and effort.

"With this new integrated garden, we come to water the vegetables every morning, and then by 8:30 a.m. we start feeding the fish in the ponds."

The garden is doing so well that anyone who passes by notices, and that has sparked interest.

"We are very happy because more members are joining thanks to the crops’ performance," she says. "At the onset, we had approximately 20 members, and most of them were losing interest in gardening due to water scarcity. But since we started cultivating near the fishponds, more inhabitants are showing renewed interest."

FAO supported Majongbeh and the Gbegbedu Rural Women Group in setting up their fish ponds and fish farming operation three years ago and facilitated knowledge exchanges to expand their entrepreneurship.