September 06, 2013
The DAI-led Food and Enterprise Development Program (FED) in Liberia, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), recently hosted U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, and U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac on a visit to the New Generational Women farm near Monrovia.
The New Generational Women farm site aims to provide livelihoods for its 30 members through the cultivation and sales of cassava and vegetables. Coons and Malac met with farmers and plot leaders to witness the group’s newly acquired agriculture and agribusiness skills in action.
“A key goal of USAID’s assistance program is to improve the skills of Liberian farmers, which will reduce Liberia’s heavy reliance on food imports, increase rural incomes and development, and expand Liberian families’ access to nutritious fresh food,” said Malac.
The 75-acre site remained unused for many years during the war until the landowners and the Liberian Agency for Economic Development Empowerment (AEDE) searched for a way to use the site for the benefit of the residents from the surrounding villages.
Through technical assistance from FED, the farmers committed to developing the site as a business by registering as a corporation—and, in partnership with Chevron, are in the process of completing a cassava processing plant close to the site. The New Generational Women farm is now Liberia’s largest cassava operation using modern agriculture techniques such as intercropping and raised-bed preparation.
“As a result of past conflicts, this community has lost a wide variety of agricultural skills and knowledge,” said FED Deputy Chief of Party Boima Bafaie. “The hard work of these farmers proves that the use of improved techniques and technology will assist the Liberian people to create prosperous livelihoods.”
FED and Chevron have provided assistance ranging from improved cassava cuttings, vegetable seed varieties, land preparation support, and skills training. Site partner AEDE has provided mentoring, and organization and leadership strengthening. FED is introducing new skills and technology in agriculture such as the use of improved varieties, irrigation and water management, mechanization, better post-harvest handling and storage, and integrated soil fertility management to small and medium-sized farm operations. The program works to reduce hunger in Liberia and promote food security through increased agricultural productivity and profitability in rice, cassava, vegetables and goats value chains in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi, and Montserrado.
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