A group of women in Lofa County has launched an ambitious project aim at restoring the county’s breadbasket of Liberia status in food and non-food crops productions through sustained agricultural activities.
Under the banner, Lofa Women for Progress (LWP), the women group aims to support economic growth and the reduction of poverty through agriculture.
The at the launch of the project last Thursday in Voinjama City, Lofa County, LWP Director, Youngor Sherman said that the organization aim is not to only make Lofa food sufficient by the entire country.
She boasted of progress made thus far in reclaiming Lofa County’s lost glory.
Madam Sherman said LWP will ensure that jobs are created for women of the county through their agricultural ventures.
“We are ready to work and so we want to call on all Lofians for their support in awakening the spirit of the county,” she said, disclosing further that with the help of another agriculture guru, John Selma and another prominent son of the county, Momo Cyrus, and others LWP has acquired 50 acres of land to begin the initiative. The group will begin the production of palm, plantain and rice.
“We want to put Lofa back in its rightful place when it comes to productivity. We can make and we will make,” she said, adding, “We want to make farm to earn our own money.
The launching of such auspicious initiative, it is anticipated, will enhance the capabilities of the women to grow more crops in regards to: Rice, Plantains, Bananas, and peppers.
Lofa, and Liberia as a whole, has a climate favorable to farming, vast forests, and an abundance of water, yet low yields mean that over half of foodstuffs are imported, with net agricultural trade at -$73.12 million.
Headed by former City Mayor of Voinjama Youngor Sherman, LWP was established in August 2010 with an initial membership of 100 persons, then 500 persons and now has exceeded 1000.
Agriculture is a major sector of the Liberian economy worth 38.8% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), employing more than 70% of the population and providing a valuable export.
The keynote speaker at the event, Lionel A. Keller, said that Lofa County has the potential and the needed manpower to reclaim its pre-war status as the most productive county during the 1970s and 1980s. Lofa seems to have been overtaken by Nimba and Bong and she needs to do better to get back on course, he intimated.
This, he said, is achievable but not with subsistence farming—“We therefore need to graduate from this type of farming and move to mechanized farming. This is the only way we can make it. I know you women will get there,” he said.
Mr. Keller is one of the founders of the Security Experts Guard of Liberia (SEGAL), one of the nation’s foremost private security agencies in the country.
“We have come to enlighten the minds of our mothers, sisters and daughters who have deemed it necessary to foster great prospects in the agriculture sector of our country. We would like to encourage you all to continue to strive in this sector in that you are positively contributing to the growth and development of our country,” Mr. Keller said.
Agriculture is considered as the bedrock of the nation and with support from everyone “our mothers, sisters and daughters will work assiduously to meet the objectives of this organization.”
Mr. Keller urged all Lofians to rally around the women to ensure that the country regain its lost status.
“We must appreciate the women of this group for standing tall among other women to ensuring breaking the gap between men and women financially. We must reduce poverty in the lives of our women and the support must be given them unequivocally,” he said.
He added that women have played a significant role in the development of Liberia through the practice of agriculture—a role that they need to retake in order to ensure that the country become food sufficient. “I want to inform you all that majority of the farmers in Liberia are women who represent more than 50 percent of the country’s farming population,” he said.
He donated L$200,000.00 to the group to be paid in four installments. He made a down payment of L$50,000.00 to the group at the program.
SEGAL CEO and managing director, Momo Cyrus, said agriculture is the way forward for Lofa and Liberia, adding that the initiative is laudable. “We will not wait until this initiative turns into a national NGO. We want officials of government, especially those of them from Lofa to come and help our women,” he said.
Mr. Cyrus reechoed the need for the country to gravitate to mechanized farming in order to alleviate the intensive labor that farmers go through.
The SEGAL, who reemphasized that he got no interest in Lofa politics but only peace, reconciliation and development, added that Lofa needs to do better in terms of agricultural productivity.