A press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has disclosed that in order to keep the agricultural value chains alive to ensure continued access to essential agricultural services and inputs supplies to enhance production in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown, FAO recently distributed 20 metric tons of fertilizer and assorted agricultural tools and equipment to 19 farmer groups located in Voinjama, Quardu-Gboni and Zorzor Districts, Lofa County.
According to the release, the intervention is part of FAO's organizational support to farmers in a bid to tackle the challenges smallholder farmers face in accessing needed agriculture inputs during the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.
Statistics show that agriculture production in sub-Saharan Africa will decline by between 2.6 per cent in 2020 due to COVID-19. As such, there is an urgent need to provide support to Liberian farmers to boost production this farming season in order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the country's agriculture and food security, the release stated.
The release further mentioned that with an estimated production area of 61.9 hectares of low land, the distribution targeted 899 beneficiaries (530 females and 369 males), which comprised the 19 farming groups.
"Some of the key inputs distributed include fertilizer, rain boots, knapsack sprayers, harvesting sickles, wheelbarrows, shovels amongst others. It can be recalled that an assorted variety of seeds were initially distributed to help ease seeds procurement constraints," the release said.
According to the release, understanding the potential impact of the pandemic on rural livelihoods and food security in Liberia, FAO is prioritizing activities that seek to address challenges to production, processing, value addition and trade of crop as livestock, fisheries and forest resources in wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Lofa County has a tropical and humid climate and the rainfall is plentiful with enough fertile land for agriculture production. This gives the county an excellent ecological niche for diverse agricultural interventions.
Before the Liberian civil crisis, Lofa was the largest producer of rice and cereal and was referred to as " breadbasket of Liberia".
'This is the first time to receive this level of support from any organization in Liberia in a timely way," a beneficiary said.
The farmers promised to use the inputs for the intended purpose and continue farming activities while adhering to safety measures in the wake COVID-19," the release further state.