On Monday 27th August, the World Food Programme Liberia in collaboration with the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Samaritan Purse International Relief, began a two-day workshop in Bong County to enhance project implementation and smallholder food production skills of stakeholders including cooperating/implementing partners, local government counterparts and beneficiaries.
The workshop is being held under the Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SHAD-P) initiative. Implemented by Samaritan Purse International Relief, SHAD-P is funded by the Japanese Government through the World Food Programme. The project aims at supporting smallholder farmers in Bong County in promoting resilience agriculture practices for staple food production. More practically, this initiative seeks to support vulnerable women and youths from approximately 1,200 households with the goal to organize them into viable agricultural producer groups; increase access to improved farming inputs and agro-processing technologies; and assist them to rehabilitate and utilize productive ariable lands including small-scale irrigation facilities for increased production of rice and other staple food crops.
Speaking at the start of the workshop, Bong County Agriculture Coordinator, Kollie R. Nahn urged farmers “to focus more on lowland production as doing so is in line with the government’s objectives to make Liberia self-sufficient in food production specifically rice. The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to support farmers to ensure that challenges they face are resolved on a timely basis.”
WFP’s Programme Policy Officer/Head of Programmes, Michael Musili, encouraged farmers to always become the best producers in order to help decrease Liberia’s reliance on imported rice. He said WFP will always stand by smallholder producers to grow not only the food their families need but to also sell the surplus and earn an income to meet other dietary and family needs. “WFP is here to facilitate, to work with the Government and partners to help farmers produce food they consume and be the best among the best.”
WFP’s National Programme Policy Officer, Lonnie A. Herring, said: “One key purpose of this workshop is to afford all partners the opportunity to practice/demonstrate WFP’s concept on Food for Asset (FFA) creation as well as understanding their roles in the implementation of Japanese food assistance project.”
Specifically, Mr Herring added, the workshop focuses on defining stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, and scope of the project’s implementation; increasing the knowledge and understanding of the FFA concepts in line with WFP’s Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs); and providing a unique opportunity for stakeholders to interact and share best practices on the efforts of agriculture activities along the staple food value chain.
Sixty (60) participants drawn from a pool of key stakeholders from the Ministries of Agriculture and Internal Affairs, Central Agricultural Research Institute, the Samaritan’s Purse International as well as farmer representatives from 15 Communities, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Bong Community College are expected to attend.
WFP and the Government of Liberia would like to thank the Government and people of Japan for their generous support to the SHAD-P initiative and smallholder farmers in Liberia.