Liberia: Solidaridad Trains 38 Extension Officers in Oil-Palm Cultivation

11 November 2019
press release

Solidaridad in Liberia has completed a three-day training workshop on the Best Management Practices (BMP) in oil-palm cultivation for extension officers of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).According to a release, the workshop took place at Gompa City, Nimba County from 4 - 6, November 2019, bringing together 38 extension workers from the MOA including District Agriculture Officers (DAOs) and County Agriculture Coordinators (CACs), among others.

The training was conducted as part of the implementation of the Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Program (SWAPP), which is funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.Speaking at the opening ceremony, Solidaridad's Oil Palm Program Manager J. Cyrus Saygbe, Sr. disclosed that the workshop was part of his institution's efforts to disperse the BMPs in oil palm cultivation to other production regions outside Solidaridad's operational areas.

"We [Solidaridad] are trying to extend the BMPs to other parts of Liberia; areas outside Solidaridad project scope because we want to see an increase in harvests and profits for our local farmers. Therefore we all gathered here to work together and ensure that the delivery of BMPs to farmers cultivating oil palm in other regions of the country is assured," he said.

Saygbe Sr., also stressed that extension delivery services remain pivotal to sustaining progress among smallholder farmers in the oil palm sector.

"Without extension delivery services, work in Liberia's oil palm sector may be difficult to sustain because the multiplication of farmers' plots also depends on the pace of extension services delivered," said Saygbe.

The Director of Extension and Research at the Ministry of Agriculture, Oliver Teekpeh, lauded Solidaridad for organizing such a training workshop.

He said the training comes at a time when the Ministry strives to enhance extension advisory relations."We appreciate Solidaridad for this initiative. One thing that we are looking forward to is to promote the Extension Advisory relations in the coming years," said Teekpah.

He, however, called on participants from the Ministry of Agriculture to make the best of the BMPs delivery techniques that Solidaridad preaches.

The workshop opening program was followed by presentations on BMPs in oil palm cultivation, and practical sessions, including on-farm demonstrations.

Solidaridad's Oil Palm Agronomists, Senkro O. Sumo, and BMP Specialist, Benjamin Gabla worked participants through BMPs processes including Fresh Fruit Branch (FFB) weighing and recording, vegetative growth measurement, lining and pegging, weeds and fertilizer management, among others.

MemaihSirleaf, a District Agriculture Officers (DAO) assigned in Bong County, Central Liberia, lauded Solidaridad for the level of impartation. She said the training has equipped her to help farmers solve some problems they face.

"I am grateful to Solidaridad for organizing such training for us. This is an added knowledge and experience for me. All the techniques I have learned here, I am going to share them with the farmers, especially the weighing and recording techniques of Fresh Fruit Branch," said Sirleaf.

In the same vein, young extension officer, Emmanuel B. William disclosed that [prior to] the training, he has not had an understanding of how the BMPs work.

"There is a lot that I have learned today. This is my first time to ever attend training on oil palm Best Management Practices and I am willing to pass this set-skills to farmers who poor production practices have affected their yield," he said.Solidaridad's work in Liberia forms part of the organization's approach to bringing sustainable solutions to improve supply chains and better the lives and wellbeing of farmers and producers, as well as their communities.

In West Africa, Solidaridad's work focuses on sustainable cocoa production, sustainable oil palm and palm oil production, responsible artisinal gold mining, food and nutrition security, gender and inclusive development, youth-focused support for agricultural transformation, climate and landscape innovations and land tenure and land governance.

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