As part of its farmers support initiative ACDI-VOCA, an international organization has launched a six-month agriculture radio program project in Bong and Nimba Counties, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The radio project, which is under ACDI-VOCA's Agriculture for Children Empowerment (ACE) program, is collaborating with two community radio stations, Radio Gbarnga in Bong and Radio Saclapea in Nimba County as a platform to broadcast messages within the two counties.
The project will focus on innovative agricultural best practices, increase flows of reliable information within the vegetable and rice value chains, and facilitate closer interactions between smallholder farmers and value chain actors.
Speaking at the launch of the radio project in Saclepea, Nimba County, the Director for ACDI-VOCA Agriculture for Children Empowerment Project, Laveto Akoi-Forkpa, said the initiative was designed primarily to enable smallholder farmers in the two counties have access to relevant information that promotes farming as a business to enhance their livelihood.
He indicated that access to updated information by smallholder farmers in Liberia on innovative agricultural practices is limited. In most cases, their primary source of information remains their friends and family network and occasionally government agriculture extension officers and NGOs staff.
The ACDI-VOCA project director noted that agricultural knowledge among smallholders is most often outdated and is a contributing factor to poor performance which the project seeks to address through the radio program campaign that is expected to benefit over 3,000 smallholder farmers in the two counties beyond the targeted farmers the project is covering.
Mr. Akoi-Forkpa stated that in order to ensure that smallholders effectively benefit from profitable value chains, it is important that they have better access to credible information in a timely manner, and should also have the opportunity to interact more closely with relevant private sector partners.
He indicated that during the course of the agriculture radio campaign, which is expected to run up to June 2013, farmers will be provided relevant information to increase their knowledge of simple farm management techniques for improved yields; increase knowledge on quality control, packaging requirements and marketing strategies , increase smallholder knowledge of existing agribusiness services, business information and facilitate their linkages to new market opportunities, price information sharing, among others.
The ACDI-VOCA project director disclosed the essence of the Agriculture for Children Empowerment Project, which is currently being implemented in Bong, Nimba and rural Montserrado County; is also geared towards working with smallholder farmers in vegetables and rice production to generate income and food security.
He said using three approaches in rendering support to the 23 farming communities directly benefiting from the project in the three counties include; Value Chain Concept, Technical Assistance and Farming As A Business(FAAB) approach which will enable farmers to plan and organize to gain income from their farms just like any other business venture for sustainable livelihood.