More than 50 participants including farmers ‘organizations, cooperating partners, and relevant local government officials, and the Bong County technical College on Monday began a three-day nutrition-sensitive agriculture training in Gbarnga, Bong County.
The training is aimed at providing all stakeholders the required knowledge to enhance their full involvement in the implementation of the Japanese supported Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SHAD-P) activities, especially, the importance of nutrition within the food systems.
This exercise also affords all participants, particularly, the rural women, the opportunity to learn best practice concepts in the production of food with high nutrition contents/values.
Speaking during the opening session of the workshop, Moses R. Gbanyan, Regional Agriculture Coordinator for Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties thanked the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Samaritans’ Purse International for the collaboration with the Government of Liberia and for bringing the SHAD-P, especially the training (Agriculture-Nutrition Sensitive Workshop) to Bong county. Gbanyan said most of the farmers in this region are youth and are now getting involved in agriculture production.
“We are happy for this trend because agriculture is a key component of our government’s development agenda. While we work with our partners like WFP and Samaritans’ Purse to encourage farmers to produce food of good nutritional values, now is the time for more collaboration amongst these three key ministries (MIA, MOA &MOH) to improve nutrition-sensitive agriculture productivity,” Gbanyan said.
The WFP Programme Officer Lonnie Herring said having worked on livelihoods projects and considering the alarming nutritional status of the people as reported in the 2018 Food Security and Nutrition Survey report, “WFP realizes the importance of farmers growing crops with high nutritional content, knowing what to eat and the need to support the government to change the mindset of farmers from just production to productivity focusing on nutrition sensitivity”.
He said WFP sees farmers, specifically women farmers as key to increasing their productivity of the staple food crops (rice & Cassava) and other crops of high nutrition values. Madam Ketumah Mulbah (Chairlady of the Quakekuyea farming group in Sinyea, Bong County), said she will take the knowledge acquired to the rest of her group members. Besides, “I am telling WFP and the government thank you for bring this kind of workshop to us – making us to think more about the right type of food to plant and to eat; grow more of right type that we can sell to others”. The Japanese Government Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SHAD-P) is a joint initiative of the Government of Liberia and World food Programme, supporting smallholder farmers in Bong County. Implemented by Samaritan’s Purse, the project promotes resilience agriculture practices for Liberia’s staple food growers by developing key farm assets. It also supports vulnerable women and youths from approximately 1,200 households in the county with the goal of transforming them into viable agricultural producer groups; increasing their access to improved farming inputs and technologies; and supporting them to utilize unproductive arable lands including small-scale irrigation facilities for increased production of rice and other staple food crops including vegetables.