By: Mark B. Dumbar>firstname.lastname@example.org
MONROVIA-In a bid to enhance farmers’ production, the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) over the weekend donated several power tillers and accessories to 34 agricultural cooperatives selected across the country in the rice and vegetable value chain.
During the donation, several motorbikes were also donated through the supervision of UNDP and MOA to some cooperatives workers in promoting Agriculture through the Ministry of Agriculture and to extension delivery efforts.
Following the program, the donation through the UNDP which is a part of the UNDP’s Livelihood to enhance empowered farmers to seek support from the Liberian Governments and to improve farm mechanization.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the beneficiaries shall also use the equipment to assist others farmers in the various farming communities to expand production.
However, the head of the Yapugeanma Women Farmers Cooperative in Gbarpolu County Madam Fatu Finda Jallah has extended an over excitement about the donation of the power tiller to her cooperative.
She noted, “that though it was not the first time for her cooperative to receive assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the government support to the cooperative but they are thankful for the donation”.
In addition, she told a local daily that her cooperative is comprised mostly women who are using agriculture to generate monies to support their families in the county.
“I am very happy that we as women in Gbarpolu County are empowered with machines to expand our cultivation. This is not the first time getting such help from the Ministry and its partners. We have also received a cassava processing machine before to create processing opportunities for women in the cassava value chain” she noted.
According to her, the equipment donated to her farming organization will enable the farmers to expand their farms.
“Using cutlasses and hoes cannot help the farmers to make larger farms to supply the market. Moreover, this type of farming is very labor and cost-intensive. But with this machine we will make bigger hectares to produce more food in the county”, she noted.
“We will also use the machine to assist other farmers in the communities to extend their production by paying a reasonable amount of fee,” she added.
However, the head of the Yapugeanma Women Farmers Cooperative in Gbarpolu County Madam Fatu disclosed that women farmers in the county are still faced with numerous challenges in agriculture.
She narrated that the lack of access to financial assistance, lack of storage, and processing facilities and the lack of farming equipment are some of the challenges facing women farmers.
“The women in the county are highly passionate about agriculture but they need more assistance to enable them to support their families and to supply the market with food” she noted.
She mentioned that the road conditions within the county are very deployable and there is a need for the government to think about improving the roads in the county.
“The road conditions have also posed a market challenge for the farmers. Many of the food we grow in the county end up not getting to Monrovia which is the larger market. This is causing a lot of produce to spoil and limiting the incomes of many farmers” she noted.
She also disclosed that in the county, women farmers are finding it difficult to own farming land despite of the new Land Law that emphasized women’s ownership of farmlands.
A statement made following the donation program from Yarpea Farmers Association coordinator Mr. Josephus M. Meatay, of Nimba County that the donation is something that they have long anticipated to enhance production.
“This is the first time to get such a piece of equipment. We have been yearning for such help. This machine is going to help members of our cooperative and other farmers in the communities to expand production”, he noted.
He noted, “that his cooperative is into rice, cassava and vegetable production”.
According to him, farmers in his county are finding it very difficult to improve incomes due to the deployable road conditions in the county.
“The issue of the lack of farm equipment and the deployable road conditions are some of the challenges confronting our farming sector in the county. We would like for the government to provide us with more equipment and to improve the road conditions in the county” he noted.
However, the Yarpea Farmers Association coordinator Mr. Josephus M. Meatay, of Nimba County disclosed that the farm machine donation to the cooperative in support to enhance the Government of Liberia’s farm mechanization drive to get farmers to transition from subsistence farming to commercialization is very cardinal.
In this light, the Agriculture Ministry through its donors’ projects has supported dozens of farmers’ cooperatives with different kinds of farm machines in order to improve the productivity of farmers in Liberia.
Again, more than 200 farmers’ cooperatives in the agriculture sector in Gbarpolu, Nimba and in various agricultural sectors have benefited from this value chains assisted in Liberia.