Amidst the struggle farmers are undergoing to return from the shackles of the deadly Ebola virus, two entities involved with partnering with government on food and agriculture production have renewed their commitment to assisting Liberian farmers ease their burdens, grow more food and other crops.
The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program realized the effect of the Ebola virus of crops during the height of the virus and therefore promised that they will assist farmers to regain what they lost.
The priority areas include Improving food security and nutrition, especially for vulnerable groups such as pregnant and lactating and children under five.
Other areas of concentration are ensuring more competitive, efficient, and sustainable food and agriculture value chain of both food and cash crops and their linkages to markets
Priority three will strengthen human and institutional capacities to provide needed services, create a strong and an enabling environment and reduce vulnerability
The fourth areas include land and water development
Making the disclosed Friday, at this year’s celebration of World Food Day, both entities acknowledged that about 80% of the world’s poor live in rural areas and rely mainly on agriculture for their incomes and food security.
The country Representative of FAO Mr. Mac Abdale said about 70% of the population rely on agriculture for livelihoods. Economic growth, especially in agriculture, has been essential to driving down rates of hunger and poverty. However, economic growth does not benefit everyone.
This year’s theme is: Social protection and agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty was really dedicated for rural farmers.
Countries in the developing world are realizing more and more that social protection measures are needed to urgently address hunger and poverty. Studies show that in 2013, social protection measures brought approximately 150 million people out of extreme poverty.
The FAO Country Representative said poor and vulnerable households typically face multiple constraints and risks and rural livelihoods can be improved through joint agriculture and social protection initiatives. This, he said is why social protection and agriculture is the theme of World Food Day this year.
World Food Day comes on the heels of the UN Global Development Summit held in New York in September, where 193 countries agreed on a new Global Agenda for Sustainable Developmentand committed to eradicating hunger by 2030.
He added that FAO Sustainable Development Goal 2 aims to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”.
The meting he said will be fundamental to achieving the other sustainable development goals because health, education and economic development cannot be improved without better food security and nutrition.
Social protection is an important part of the 2030 Agenda as it is considered a crucial instrument to lift poor communities out of poverty.
“Social protection programmes are very important to the ordinary Liberia mainly women, children and youth who need the assistance of the government and its partners. This is where FAO and WFP’s collaboration with the Government and people of Liberia is crucial to not only help people produce the food they eat but also to support their families and live improved standard of life. FAO has been working in Liberia since 1977” he added.
He said FAO is present in 10 of 15 counties working in lowland rice, vegetable production, aquaculture, climate change agriculture, livestock characterization, PPR, capacity development, sector coordinator, policy advice,social protection support to revitalize the Village Saving and Loans Associations through cash transfer along with the low land rice production technical support.
FAO, he added currently has 8 operational projects in the country targeting a total beneficiary caseload of 275 farming groups comprising about 40,000 people.
Our intervention in lowland rice alone is up to 200 hectares in six counties.
Capacity development of farmers within the framework of the CPF is central to FAO’s work, focusing on four priority areas including:
WFP said In Liberia, its programmes aim to provide safety nets to strengthen food and nutrition security through school feeding and social protection measures, and to strengthen Liberia’s capacity to own and implement hunger solutions.
The WFP also said it has special focus on women, in order to help address barriers to women’s advancement and food security.
“School meals are our largest safety net programme. Currently, over 127,000 primary school children in 700 schools across 10 counties benefit from WFP school meals to enable them to stay in school, concentrate and learn better. Additionally, 5,000 girls receive take-home rations as an extra incentive to stay in school. WFP and partners are also in initial planning phases to transition to Home Grown School Feeding which links the agriculture value chain with school meals to provide a boost in nutrition as well as to farmers in the local economy” WFP added.
WFP: “Through our Livelihood Asset and Market Promotion programmes, we are working with the Government and other partners to support 28,000 farmers (68% of them women) across 10 counties in Liberia. Through this, we are working to enhance the resilience of rural communities to economic shocks, food insecurity and natural disasters by promoting sustainable livelihoods and establishing community grain reserves; stimulate agricultural production by improving access to markets through repairing roads and bridges; reducing post-harvest losses and improving grain quality; support for rehabilitation of lowland rice fields and small-scale irrigation systems, and to link farmers’ organizations to markets”.
It also added “The battle to end hunger and poverty must be fought mainly in rural areas. Greater pro-poor investments should be made in smallholders, family farmers, rural women, indigenous communities and other vulnerable or marginalized people.”
With their expertise and resources, FAO and WFP are well-positioned and ready to support countries including Liberia in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – at least 14 out of the 17 goals are related to FAO and WFP work introducing poverty, malnutrition and improving food security.