By T. Saye Goinleh
The World Food Program (WFP) in collaboration with government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture and Samaritan Purse International Relief (SPIR) has ended a two-day workshop in Bong County to enhance project implementation for smallholder food production skills of stakeholders including cooperating/implementing partners, local government counterparts and beneficiaries.
The workshop was held under the Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SHAD-P) initiative implemented by Samaritan Purse, SHAD-P is funded by the Japanese Government through the WFP aimed at supporting smallholder farmers in Bong County in promoting resilient agriculture practices for staple food production.
The initiative practically seeks to support vulnerable women and youths from approximately one thousand two hundred households with the goal to organize them into viable agricultural producer groups; thereby increasing access to improved farming inputs and agro-processing technologies aimed at assisting them to rehabilitate and utilize productive arable lands including small-scale irrigation facilities for increased production of rice and other staple food crops.
Speaking at the start of the workshop, Bong County agriculture coordinator, Kollie R. Nahn urged farmers to focus more on lowland production; as doing so is in line with government’s objectives to make Liberia self-sufficient in food production specifically rice.
“The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to support farmers to ensure that challenges they face are resolved on a timely basis,” the Bong agricultural head assured the local farmers.
For his part, WFP’s program policy officer and head of programs in Liberia Michael Musili encouraged the farmers to always become the best producers in order to help avert the huge importation of rice that Liberia is currently experiencing. He said WFP will always stand by smallholder producers to grow not only the food their families need to eat, but to also sell the surplus and earn income to meet other dietary and family needs.
“WFP is here to facilitate, to work with government and partners to help you, farmers produce food they consume and be the best among the best,” Mr. Michael Musili admonished the farmers.
Also speaking was Mr. Lonnie A. Herring, another officer who said the key purpose of the workshop was to afford all partners the opportunity to practice and demonstrate WFP’s concept on food for asset (FFA) creation as well as understanding their roles in the implementation of Japanese supplementary food aid project.
Mr. Lonnie added that the workshop focuses on defining stakeholder’s roles and responsibilities, and scope of the project’s implementation, increasing the knowledge and understanding of the food assistance for asset creation concepts in line with WFP’s standard of operation procedures (SOPs) and providing a unique opportunity for stakeholders to interact and share best practices on the efforts of agricultural activities along the staple food value chain.
Sixty participants drawn from a pool of key stakeholders from the Ministries of Agriculture and Internal Affairs, Central Agricultural Research Institute, the Samaritan’s Purse International as well as farmer representatives from fifteen communities from Bong County, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Bong Community College attended the workshop.