15 February 2013

Liberia: National Confab On Peri-Urban Farming Opens in Monrovia

The President of the Farmers' Union in Liberia, Representative Josephine Francis says Liberians should now focus on turning their bushes into farmlands. Montserrado County District #1 Representative Francis said a country that is unable to feed itself can not be able to feed other nations therefore Liberians need to give up the bushes that surround the country so that farmers can have more lands to cultivate.

Speaking during the opening of a two-day national conference on enhancing Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture for sustainable Livelihood, the Union's president said time is running out as more children are becoming malnourished due to lack of proper nutrition and diet.

She said Liberia must boost its economic development to achieve food security and that needs to include training of farmers on how to grow food with proper nutrition as well as fertilizers because Liberia can not continue to depend on the world to feed its citizens.

She said now that Liberia has reached some level on peace and stability, it must embark on feeding itself. While the Chief of Party of FED, Jonathan Greenham said it is amazing that in Liberia it is the older generation that have so much knowledge about farming.

Mr. Greenham therefore urged the older generation to transfer their farming knowledge to younger generations concerning urban and peri-urban agriculture. He said what is also surprising in Liberia is that everything that is given to them for their progress is turned into business.

He said it is not projects that make changes, instead it is the people that bring changes and it is about time that Liberians learn from other African countries on how to develop in agriculture. Currently, Liberia has an estimated population of 3.9 million with an average rate of 2.1 and almost 50 percent living in urban areas.

Agriculture has been viewed as the backbone of Liberia but it is estimated that Liberia only meets a third of her total food consumption requirements from local production while the major underlying reasons for the high level of prevalence of food and nutrition insecurity are widespread poverty and high unemployment rates.

However, yesterday's session was characterized with speeches as well as presentations which include urbanization, access to land and urban planning of UPA; urban value chain development/ marketing /business and access to finance.

The keynote address was made by Andre Stelder who stressed the need for farmers to take ownership of feeding the nation and take advantage of mechanized farming in order to develop urban agriculture. Urban food security and nutrition and waste management as well as food safety in relation to UPA were among presentations made.

Today several addresses will be made by the UoL Dean of CAF and the RUAF Senior consultant as well as the acting City Mayor, Mary Broh while Vice President Joseph Boakai will grace the closing with special remarks.

Farmers' organization, youth employment and gender; extension and capacity building, curriculum development on UPA will be presented and exhibition will be displayed at the end of the conference, C. Winnie Saywah reports.

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