At the end of a well-attended two-day Agricultural Sector Dialogue Event in Monrovia, Liberian farmers, local and international Agriculture Stakeholders have agreed that if nothing is done urgently to address the long standing issue of Food Security in Liberia, the country is certain to slip into serious national crisis.
The Liberian farmers said this would be crisis, due to the failure of the Liberian Government and international partners to seriously and immediately address the problems facing food security.
The farmers said the crisis would be even worse than any conflict the country has ever seen before in its history.
Some of the Liberian famers mainly from Sinoe, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties said their local leaderships are not respected by the companies.
The farmers said they do not have more land to farm and noted that the concessions have turned them into people living in communities without drinking water because all their sources of water including creeks and streams have been buried by the expansion of these concessions.
The farmers said employees of the Golden Veroleum Company in Sinoe County must carry gallons of water on a daily basis to work just to drink because the companies don’t provide water for them.
Some of the farmers spoke of the failure of concession companies to build schools and hospitals as part of the social development agreements.
The farmers chanting slogan, “No land, no farmers, no farmers no food” said concession companies have turned their sacred forests and ancestors’ lands into opened fields, damaged their crops, using maps to clear their towns and villages without any border between them and the company’s land.
The farmers said as a result of that, prices of local food have increased greatly. They further noted that they are not against the government but the process of how these negotiations are taking place and the implementation of their respective contracts.
In recommendations to end the Monrovia Agriculture Dialogue Event, the Liberian farmers called on the Liberian Government to renegotiate the contracts and make amendments that would reflect respect for Customary Ownership Rights.
The farmers want land to be identified by them for concession purposes and that lands must also be available for farming purposes for their means of survival.
They want a thorough investigation on the activities of Golden Veroleum in the wake of the laying off of 500 employees.
The over one hundred farmers, under the Farmers Union Network of Liberia, local and international agriculture stakeholders were reviewing the challenges and successes of the Liberian Government’s recently launched Liberia Agricultural Sector Investment Plan or LASIP, which seeks to address food security in Liberia.
The Agriculture Dialogue Event is an initiative seeking to bring together representatives from the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Agriculture, the Private Sector, Small-Scale Farmers, NGOs and donors to discuss the status of LASIP and Liberian Agriculture with an eye on solving problems and addressing the challenges thereof.
The Agricultural Sector Dialogue Event, which was held from June 3-4, 2013 was sponsored by the pro-Liberian forest and rights groups, Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU) along with Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) and the Farmers Union Network of Liberia (FUN).
Earlier in his presentation on the LASIP Implementation, the Project Management Unit leader at the Agriculture Ministry, Dr. Moses Zinnah spoke of weak coordination between government ministries and agencies, the over dependence on external funding, institutional and human capacity building implementation as some of the major challenges facing the LASIP implementation.
The Agriculture Ministry expert said there was a need to strengthen Monitoring and Evaluation component.