In Liberia, agriculture provides the livelihood for more than 80% of the labor force, most of whom are smallholder farmers largely engaged in the production of cereals, legumes, vegetables and few livestock and poultry.
Majority small-scale farmers in Liberia are women, who are among the poorest, most vulnerable and not trained to vegetable production. For more than one-third of the rural population of Liberia, the primary source of income is crop production, but this does not provide sufficient income for them because of the lack of training and farming implements for local farmers to produce large farms.
However, the Agricultural Research Consortium (ARC) with support from the Latter Day Saints Charities (LDS) is taking Liberia’s local farmers to the next productive level to help in boosting the country’s agriculture sector.
The ARC’s Executive Director David G. Taigbailee has said the organization just completed a three-day training for fifty local farmers in vegetable production in Totota, Bong County.
A release quotes Mr. Taigbailee as saying the training was intended to provide adequate knowledge to farmers to get professional skills in vegetable production and to empower them with seeds and local farm implements to enable them to grow more vegetables in the county.
He emphasized that the farmers were trained in different kinds of agronomic practices in vegetable crops production such as cassava, potato, eddoes, beans, groundnut, pineapple, cucumber, watermelon, okra, pepper and tomato among others.
The training also focused on rice and maize production practices and techniques, the agro-ecosystem analysis (AESA) procedure, water and soil management, fertilizer application, pesticide application and principles of integrated pest management.
“ARC as a registered and accredited non-governmental and non-profit organization is endeavoring to solve some of the challenges faced by local Liberian farmers through agricultural research and training. We are focusing on providing adequate knowledge to improve agronomic practices such as the use of agrochemicals in disease and pest control and nutrient management; post-harvest handling and animal husbandry among others,” Mr. Taigbailee said.
The Executive Director mentioned that the ARC has completed a research on seed multiplication and genetic conservation of rice genotypes for trait improvement in Liberia.
“Our main office is Kakata and recently, we attained about ten (10) hectares of lowland from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute KRTTI as donation to research. Out of the ten hectares of lowland, we used 1.5 hectares to research.
Besides, we have conducted research on 75 rice genotypes collected from five in counties and the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) to establish useful agronomic and genetic information that can be used by farmers as well as scientists for proper selection of planting materials for crop improvement, Taigbailee said.
He also said the ARC have currently planted rice on 2.5 hectares in the Buzzy Quarter community in Bong County.
Doris Binda is a mother of five children, she benefited from the ARC’s vegetable production training. According to her, she has acquired a new skill in helping her grow more vegetable in her area.
“Thanks to the ARC for the training, it gave me more knowledge in growing my crops. I will put the use the knowledge I have learned here,” said Doris.
The Latter Day Saints Charities (LDS) partnership with the Agriculture Research Consortium (ARC) is greatly empowering more farmers with the necessary skills and tools to boost agriculture in Totota, Bong County.
According to the Latter Day Saints Charities Country Director, Elder Dale Christainsen, though the Charities cannot help in training all the farmers in Liberia, it will do its best to work with the ARC in training and empowering more farmers in the few of the counties.
He called on the farmers to see the training as an opportunity, grow more food, and sell their products to get more money to sustain themselves and their families.