More than 50 participants comprising farmers' organizations, cooperating partners, local government officials, and Bong County Technical College students recently completed a three-day nutrition-sensitive agriculture training in Gbarnga, Bong County.
The workshop was carried out by the World Food Program (WFP) and Samaritans' Purse International, aimed at providing farmers the required knowledge to enhance their full involvement in the implementation of the Japanese supported Smallholder Agriculture Development Project's (SHAD-P) activities, especially the importance of nutrition within the food system. The exercise also afforded participants, particularly rural women, the opportunity to learn best practice concepts in the production of food with high nutrition contents.
Speaking during the opening session of the workshop, Mr. Moses R. Gbanyan, Regional Agriculture Coordination for Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties, thanked WFP and Samaritans' Purse International for collaborating with the Government of Liberia (GoL) to bring the workshop in Bong County.
Mr. Gbanyan said most of the farmers in this region are youth who are now getting involved in agricultural activities. "We are happy for this trend because agriculture is a key component of our government's development agenda," he said.
He stressed the need for more collaboration among partners that are involved in nutrition as they encourage farmers to prioritize the production of crops with high nutritional value.
WFP Program Officer Lonnie Herring said having worked on livelihoods' projects and considering the alarming nutritional status of the people as reported in the 2018 Food Security and Nutrition Survey report, "WFP realizes the importance of farmers' growing crops with high nutritional content.
"Farmers' knowing what to grow to eat and the need to support the government to change the mindset of farmers from just production to productivity focusing on nutrition sensitivity, is important," he said.
According to Herring, WFP sees farmers, specifically women, as key to increasing their productivity of staple food crops (rice & Cassava) and other crops of high nutrition value.
Madam Ketumah Mulbah (Chairlady of the Quakekuyea farming group in Sinyea, Bong County), said she will take the knowledge acquired to the rest of her members.
"I am telling WFP and the government thanks for bringing this kind of workshop to us - making us think more about the right type of food to plant and to eat; grow more of the right type that we can sell to others," she said.
The Japanese Government Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SHAD-P) is a joint initiative of the Government of Liberia and WFP, supporting smallholder farmers in Bong County. The project is being implemented by Samaritan's Purse to promote resilient agricultural practices for Liberia's staple food growers by developing key farm assets. It also supports vulnerable women and youths from approximately 1,200 households in the county, with the goal of transforming them into viable agricultural producer groups; increasing their access to improved farming inputs and technologies; and supporting them to utilize unproductive arable lands, including small-scale irrigation facilities for increased production of rice and other staple food crops, including vegetables