The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has ended a week-long training exercise for farmers.
A release said the training targeted farmers primarily in production and post-value chains of vegetables, value addition to cassava, lowland rice, and production of natural honey (Beekeeping).
It also targeted District Agriculture Officers (DAO) from the Ministry of Agriculture. Participants were trained in Farmer Field School (FFS) methodologies, concepts and principles.
The five-day exercise was funded under the United Nations Joint Programme on Human Security Trust Fund project implemented by FAO in collaboration with five other United Nation agencies including (UN Women, WFP, ILO, UNFPA, UNICEF), UNMIL and the Government of Liberia in twenty-three (23) project communities, four counties; Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland Counties.
The joint initiative comes from the background that the four counties which accommodated large influx of Ivorian refugees and Liberian returnees, had already fragile border communities that were already marginalized and often neglected. This situation has caused the socioeconomic fabrics of these communities to be more vulnerable.
The introduced FFS approach to farmers, will enhance their methodology to agricultural development which provides them the opportunity to learn and achieve greater control over the condition that they faced every day in the field.
It also empowers them to be food sufficient and generate considerable income. It is this that has influence the design and implementation of FFS.
With the acquired skills and knowledge in FFS, participants will now return to their communities/groups where they will serve as facilitators to replicate the concepts and methodologies acquired during the session.
In his opening statements, Mr. Albert C. Kpassawah, FAO National Consultant/Project Manager Joint Programme on Human Security Trust Fund lamented that the training is intended to train farmers on concept and methodology of Farmer Field School, "FAO is collaborating with other UN agencies to improve the capacity of farmers in vegetable and lowland rice production as well as post value chains in vegetable, rice and production of natural honey."
He informed the participants that: "FFS provides learning opportunity to farmers on how to reduce the use of pesticide and improve the use of their inputs (water and fertilizer) to enhance yield and obtain increased in income. The approach will also be used to established sustainable agriculture system in communities and promote reduction in food in security that will lead to the achievement of food security for themselves, community dwellers, their children and future generation."
Also speaking, the lead facilitator Mr. Gregory Tarpleh, Director, Crop Resource at the Ministry of Agriculture recapped and said "the FFS is not only intended to improve farmers production, but teach them the technique involve in production. It also enables farmers to know about the plant health of crop, and promote the farmers from production level to income generation."
He mentioned that empowering farmers is not only by providing seeds and tools but building their capacity to train other farmers at the community/village levels."
"The weeklong exercise is focus on enhancing the capacity of extension workers to serve as technical skilled and group sensitive facilitators of farmers' experimental learning rather than prescribing blanket recommendations that cover a wide geographical areas; improve the expertise of farmers to make logical decisions on what works best for them based on their own observations of experimental plots in their FFS and establish coherent farmer groups that facilitate the work of extension and research works," he lamented.
Charles B. Zulu, Assistant Development Superintendent in Grand Gedeh County lauded the initiative of FAO by providing farmers with the requisite skills to improve their production. "I am glad to say that this venture is welcomed by the county, we will continue to work with FAO to improve the production capacity of farmers."
FAO is strengthening the agricultural based livelihood of vulnerable population through market and road accessibility, skills training and employment opportunities as well as enhancing food security among communities and smallholders farmers.