-WFP’s Deputy Country Director Tells Farmers In Bong County
World Food Programme in Liberia Deputy Country Director, Asif Bhutto, has admonished farmers in Bong County to make maximum use of the opportunity provided under the SHAD-P (Smallholder Agriculture Development Project) to increase your production capacities, save enough seeds for the next season, and become sustainable.
On his second field mission to the project sites since its inception over two months ago, Deputy Country Director (DCD) Asif expressed satisfaction over achievements made so far in the rehabilitation and development of lowlands in Bong County that utilizes food for assets creation modalities.
He the beneficiaries, mainly women’s groups to work harder to become stronger farmers. “We are all aware that WFP’s support is not indefinite on these sites as we have to move on to support other producers all around Liberia,” he said.
Funded by the Government and people of Japan, the SHAD-P effort is a joint initiative of the Government of Liberia and WFP – implemented by Samaritan’s Purse Liberia – to assist smallholder rice and vegetable producers in Bong County increase production, build resilience, and adopt best agriculture practices aimed at long term sustainability.
Bong County has been listed in the past as one of Liberia’s leading “food producing hubs” but the county’s production quotas have drastically fallen in recent years. About 1,200 households comprising youth and women in agriculture are being reached with the hope of helping them contribute to the County regaining its once famed “bread basket” status.
During his visit, DCD Asif was taken on a guided tour – by implementing partner Samaritan’s Purse field technicians – of five production sites, met with beneficiaries, field technicians and local Ministry of Agriculture authorities. Sites toured included Bellemue, Foequelleh, Palala, Suakoko, and Melekie.
In Bellemue, he saw ongoing work on the lowland site and visited the farmers’ warehouse containing bagged Liberian country rice. He was also taken to the community access road being built as part of the food for assets-connected activities.
In Foequelleh, the DCD said he was pleased to see a school building – the Dolokelen Junior High School – that is being roofed with food for work support from WFP. The school’s principal, Amos Dolo Jr, praised WFP for the invaluable assistance.
“WFP’s food for work has helped us roof the building and the assistance is assured until the building is plastered and completed to its finishing touches. This building has been here since 2011, but with this assistance from WFP, we are going to finish it for the children to learn in good environment”.
Speaking earlier in Gbarnga in a meeting, DCD Asif lauded Regional and County Agriculture Coordinators for their tireless efforts and collaboration with WFP. “We also thank our Japanese partners for their generosity. Our plan is to support the Government’s food security vision along the lines of the pro poor agenda to assist vulnerable farmers grow their own food.”
SHAD-P is enhancing capacity of farmers in creating numerous new lowland assets as well as rehabilitating former swamp sites that were either destroyed by overgrown high shrubs, ferocious flooding, or long years of neglect due to reported lack of support to farmers.
Famers in areas visited, while lauding WFP, Government of Liberia and Japan, also pledged to “keep these sites alive. They will not be allowed to spoil any more”.