Ma Musa and Ma Kebbeh on the rural women's rice farm in Bong County. Rural women farmers appeal for financial assistance, say manual farming leads to losses in harvest
Rural women under the banner of the Liberia National Rural Women Association appear to have reached their maximum productivity through manual farming and are appealing to the government for financial assistance to enable them upgrade and advance their various agricultural projects across the country to mechanized farms.
The women said that with financial assistance they can purchase seeds and equipment.
Musu Barto, president of Bong Country rural women, told ActionAid-Liberia that with more equipment, women across Liberia can improve agricultural productivity to sustain their families.
She said that women farmers are faced with numerous challenges in making their farms, adding that most of them are still using manual labor which limit their abilities to produce more food.
"If we have mechanized equipment, it will increase our yield. But we are using cutlasses and hoes," she said, adding that women farmers are also in need of warehouses to store the produce before taking them to the markets.
"In 2005," Madam Barto continued, "the World Food Program used to assist many rural women to expand rice projects, which increased their incomes."
She said the women in the various counties are also interested in growing vegetables and that it is important for them to have vegetable sees to add value to their produce.
"The issue of access to land is one of the greatest challenges that female farmers are facing. We women need land to develop their farms so that they can educate their families", he said.
Madam Barto, who worked with 37 women and 5 men to develop 60 hectares, said cultivating large areas manually leads to losses in harvest.
"We have divided our land into plots among the women for them to be able to sell their rice to various organizations to send their children to schools, and hospitals", she said.
Rural Women rice farm
According to Barto, her group is also involved in creating processing opportunities for its members. "We buy the rice from other women who do not have access to machines to process their produce", she said.
She said last year they were given 46 metric tons of seed rice to grow to support the school feeding program.
"The school feeding contract in Ganta, Nimba County, went on successfully because of our commitment and there is opportunity for a new contact," she said.
She said the project has sustained and empowered women who never knew that agriculture is a business.
"Since we want quick money, we harvest three times a year. As we are doing the first harvest, we are preparing the field for the next planting season," she said.
Ma Kebbeh Mongar, the rural women national president, expressed gratitude to Bong women for the farm and called on government and NGOs to extend their support to more women.
Ma Mongar said the rural women have agricultural projects in the 15 counties because her organization helps to empower them.
"I want rural women to be major food suppliers in Liberia because we do not want to be importing food from Ivory Coast when we have the land to produce our food. We also want training to help us add value to the products from our farms."
She said it is the dream of rural women to have a farm in each of the fifteen counties by 2020.