Support to farmers for food production, nutrition and income generation opportunities is swiftly underway in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland Counties.
Funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the Project, titled, “Food and Nutrition Security for Ivorian Refugees and Host Families in Liberia”, is catering to 500 household beneficiaries in Nimba County alone (200 upland rice and 300 lowland rice) for the first phase.
Sarkorlay Town, with a population of over 3,000 residents , is an agricultural community in Gbelegeh District, Nimba County just a few miles from the border with Côte D’Ivoire. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), in conjunction with the ARS – Agriculture Relief Services that serves as local implementing partner – in April began the distribution of assorted hand tools, fertilizer, and three varieties of improved lowland and upland seed rice including WITTA 4, FKR-19, and Suakoko 8 which are MoA and FAO certified and take only three months to harvest.
Mrs Elizabeth Gontee, 40, is a host farmer with five children from Zorlepula Village near Sarkorlay Town. She could not hold back her satisfaction: “Today, I am happy. I received 25kg of swamp rice. The other day, I got the tools, fertilizer, flashing tapes, twine, and boots. In three month’s time, I hope to have enough food for my family and seed rice for planting next year.”
Nuah Dro, 42, is an Ivorian refugee with three mouths to feed. She underscored the difficulty she experiences in fetching food for the family. “Food business is sometimes hard here for us, and we are far from Monrovia. This makes things very expensive and difficult. We are going to plant this rice for me and my children to have enough food and seed rice for next year’s planting.”
The distribution exercise in Grand Gedeh County catered to 1,000 (400 lowland rice and 600 upland rice) beneficiaries while in Maryland 1,000 beneficiaries (400 lowland rice and 600 upland rice) are being reached. Beneficiaries in Zleh Town, Pouh Town and nearby communities received improved three months duration seed rice including LAC 23, Suakoko 8, and NL-19 with much satisfaction, loaded wheelbarrows and commercial motorbikes and headed for their farms. “Doh Boniface, 45, is a refugee. He recalled FAO and MoA’s assistance last planting year that enabled his family put two meals on the table daily. “The Government, SAP, and FAO’s assistance was very good. In fact we are selling some of the pepper right here in front of you to see,” he said pointing to several piles of hot pepper on sale. In Gbalaken Village, Maryland County, MoA’s Senior Extension Officer Josiah Davis, admonished farmers to use the seed rice to plant and produce more food, not to eat them. “When you receive this seed rice, you must put them into soil, and not eat them, so that next year you have plenty to eat.” The 52 year old town chief of Koluson Village, Maryland County, Wellington Nyancie, expressed gratitude for the hand tools, fertilizer, flashing tapes, and seed rice and pledged to lead his 59 member group “to grow better rice for my family and keep seed rice for next year.”
Liberia continues to host up to 64,450 refugees most of whom live in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland Counties mainly along the borders. The CERF Project is a joint UN humanitarian enterprise in which FAO implements the crop production aspect while WFP would cater to the rehabilitation of small scale lowland irrigation schemes through Food For Asset interventions. UNICEF is responsible for preventing immediate nutrition deprivation, and reduce child morbidity and mortality in over 60 host communities.