A group of local farmers calling themselves the River Gee Cooperative Farmers (RGCF) based in the commercial city of Kanweaken, River Gee County has called on President George Weah to approve a Liberian-owned agriculture company based in California, USA to officially start its operations in Liberia.
The RGCF group says the USA based company has expressed interest in supporting Liberian farmers. They say Tarlesson Farm Incorporated in California wants to come to Liberia to help farmers in various areas of food production, and named some of the company's areas of expertise as intensive rice production, vegetables of all kinds, production of cocoa and coffee, and animal husbandry, among others.
The company, according to recent documents in the possession of this paper, stated that its initial focus will be in River Gee, from where it would gradually spread out to other counties.
In a recent interview, Othello T. S Tuweh, youth representative of RGCF, said that the California-based company is willing and prepared to invest in the country's agriculture sector, adding that the company only needs the approval of the Liberian Government to start its official operations in Liberia anytime this year.
According to Tuweh, although the company has been operating in River Gee County under the leadership of Roosevelt Tarlesson since 2005, it is yet to gain recognition from the government despite efforts by the organization's current leadership to gain permanent status for its operations.
"The Tarlesson Farm Incorporated (Inc.) has been working with local farmers in River Gee in rice and other agricultural production, but its operation has not been felt fully by the people; and so we need the help of the government," Tuweh said.
He said that the RGCF is one of the largest agricultural organizations in the county, with a membership of forty thousand farmers (men and women) and ten thousand youth that are currently engaged in farming activities across the county, "and as such we will do everything possible to draw the Liberian Government's attention to this Liberian-owned company, the Tarlesson Farm, Inc."
The young Liberian farmer stated that the Tarlesson Farm Inc. is also willing to help Liberians empower themselves in the agriculture sector through the provision of the necessary training and capacity building for interested farmers, most especially youth, in food production and other areas of concentration in the country.
Tuweh pointed out that over the past 15 years farmers in River Gee, specifically those belonging to RGCF, have found it challenging to produce rice and other food crops because of the lack of necessary support to local farmers.
"We have been wishing to have such an opportunity in our county; it is not only about River Gee, but Liberia at large. We embrace this idea, and we plead with President George Weah's government to grant this man the operating power in Liberia," he pleaded.
The RGCF youth representative said he sees the coming of Tarlesson Farm Inc. as another way of boosting the agriculture sector and reducing the economic hardship in the country by creating job opportunities for many young people.
Meanwhile, in a telephone conversation last Saturday, Roosevelt Tarlesson, the owner of Tarlesson Farm, Inc, told the Daily Observer that as a Liberian he would be proud to introduce mechanized farming to Liberia to help alleviate poverty.
Tarlesson disclosed that his company has the necessary expertise to transform the agriculture sector of the country, if only the government would grant him the legal status by signing all the relevant documents.
About Tarlesson Farm Inc's Pilot Project
Tarlesson Farm Inc. currently trains unemployed Liberians, immigrant youths (18 years of age and older) and retired and unemployed older Liberians in a farmer-to-farmer program.
The trained farmers are expected to come to Liberia and work with local farmers.
Currently, NESDAC (National Economic and Social Development Action Committee) is working with National Farmer Cooperative of Tarlesson Farms, Inc., with over 200,000 smallholder farmers/producers in Liberia.