The Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP) in collaboration with authorities at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), recently launched the "Love Liberian Rice Campaign," which aims at improving food security in the country through rice production, processing and marketing.
Launched at the Paynesville City Hall, the campaign brought together distinguished personalities, including officials of government, foreign nationals, private sector actors and representatives of local farmers.
Montserrado District #2 Representative, Jimmy Smith, who launched the campaign on behalf of the Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, described the initiative as laudable, and called on all Liberians to support the process.
Smith then expressed the government's willingness to support CHAP to make the program a reality. He promised to purchase 200 bags of the rice produced by CHAP, as his contribution to promote the campaign.
Paynesville City Mayor, Palm Belcher-Taylor, also lauded CHAP for the program, and pledged L$85,000 in support of the Campaign as well.
Mayor Belcher-Taylor said for any investment to be sustained, the people must take ownership. Therefore, "we encourage every Liberian to contribute to the campaign by making minimum contribution, because we want it extended to the U.S., Europe and Asia," she told the participants.
CHAP Executive Director, Robert Bimba, who provided the overview, recalled how Liberians, especially rural dwellers, are contributing to the rice campaign.
According Bimba, the initiative aims at soliciting a volunteer contribution of US$1 from each individual, mainly those that are engaged into agriculture activities, "so that proceeds generated from the campaign will be used to purchase farming implements to empower smallholders' farmers.
As part of the initiative, Bimba said approximately, 5,000 smallholder farmers, mainly women, are expected to benefit from seed rice under the program this year. According to him, the distribution of seed rice has already begun with smallholder farmers in Bomi County, and is expected to be extended to other beneficiary counties.
Bimba said prior to the exercise, CHAP has taught the farmers with improved technology in the "System of Rice Intensification" to increase the production of rice.
"We will have 3,000 tons of milled rice by mid-July for the local and international markets. Liberians outside the country are highly encouraged to contributed to the success of this program," he added.