The New Dawn (Monrovia)

13 May 2014

Liberia: Ellen Calls for Agriculture, Food Production

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has encouraged Liberians to return to the soil and engage in agriculture and food production, noting the rewards are immense "though farming is hard work."

President Sirleaf challenged Liberians to use uninhabited parcels of land around their surroundings in making small gardens and farms as this will help to address the problem of food sufficiency.

The President herself a farmer, said Liberians can stripe to fight hunger in many ways, including supporting farmers, providing funding, through technical assistance; but most especially, by themselves getting back to the soil.

She noted that the introduction of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is one of the many methods the Ministry of Agriculture has employed to increase rice production and CHAP has been the institution that has been using this method very successfully.

President Sirleaf made the statement at the weekend when she was invited to begin the harvesting of three hectares swamp rice (Narica L-19) farm undertaken by the Community of Hope in Zubah Town, Duport Road, according to the Executive Mansion.

She applauded the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP) for continuing to grow, saying that many times people come up with brilliant ideas and begin projects but they never last.

"CHAP has been doing this year after year, so let's commend them for that," she urged the audience, and added that sustainability is continuing to improve and expand on what one does to make it bigger and better which is how people excel and become successful.

Montserrado County District No. 4 Representative Henry B. Fahnbulleh, who attended the program, said assured that once a bill goes before the House regarding anything that has to do with Agriculture, he will advocate for it immediate passage into law.

Liberia's Agriculture Minister, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, praised CHAP as one of the Ministry's success stories, but noted that they are not there yet.

A representative of the West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP) assured CHAP of its support in all endeavors, saying, "Our intervention in Grand Gedeh and River Gee is not the end. We will support you in the western region, the eastern region and all of our counties of intervention."

WAAPP said it has a responsibility to provide leadership in areas where people's lives will be enhanced and improved and agriculture is the surest way to ensure the stability of the country in food production.

A representative of the Farmer's Union Network reiterated that agriculture strengthens democracy because a country that is unable to feed itself may likely bow to the dictates of anyone that will feed her people. "Why farmers are so important," he said, "is because they produce food to feed the nation."

Registering thanks and appreciation to President Sirleaf and the government for continued support to this sector of the economy, the Network called on farmers to continue the work they're doing to produce food until they reach the point of mass production that is available and affordable.

Also speaking on behalf of Women Farmers, Ms. Mariama Wilson appealed to President Sirleaf for assistance: "We need help and your cooperation if you want us to fight hunger in this country."

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