By Victor C. Hanson, Jr
Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) Representative, Jean-Alexandre Scagila, has underscored the importance of agriculture noting that it’s key to development everywhere.
Mr. Scagila said agriculture is also important for rural development, youth empowerment, food security and poverty reduction.
Addressing newsmen yesterday on the relevance of agriculture in a country’s development at the FAO office in Monrovia, Mr. Scagila said that Liberia is fantastic in a sense that everything can grow in the country and all animals can be found here.
Mr. Scagila observed that the country has a unique environment and a high population of young people and as such agriculture can be a major factor in national development and growths, saying, “It is better to have a young population than an ageing one.”
He said avenues should be created to assist in developing the capacity and skills of the people so that they can be more effective and become technicians in agriculture.
He added that women can also contribute to the development of agriculture to assist in feeding the country, stressing that the promotion for food security is an empowerment for youths and that the media has an important role to play by informing the people that agriculture is a positive job, and that the country is in the position of investing into the sector.
Mr. Scagila said that fish from the rivers are good not only those from the sea, and agriculture is not only about farming noting that other countries are successful today because they have a better agricultural sector.
He stated further that it is essential to put forth the issue of agriculture now and if immediate action is not taken in years to come, it will affect the future generation, especially when the country’s population reaches about eight million.
Representative Scagila said Liberia is very young, and its people are willing but that there are no tools, and there is almost no limit for agriculture in Liberia. “One can grow anything and make any amount and even more than others out there through the practice of agriculture science,’’ the FAO Liberia Boss said.
Mr. Scagila added that about US$200million is used annually for the importation of rice in Liberia and if half of that amount can be used to empower the agriculture sector, it will help make the country’s agricultural sector better.
Giving statistics on malnutrition and food security of the various counties in Liberia, Mr. Scagila rated Grand Kru with 76.1 percent; Grand Gedeh, 55.3 percent; Lofa, 61.3 percent and Gbarpolu, 54.9 percent.
He also rated Grand Cape Mount with 78.8 percent, Bomi, 87 percent, Bong, 64.6 percent, Nimba, 41.5 percent, Rural Montserrado, 67 percent, Monrovia 20.3 percent, Grand Bassa, 60 percent, Sinoe, 65.1 percent, River Gee, 66.6 percent,Margibi, 63.2 percent and Maryland, 71 percent.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is the largest specialized UN agency for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, livestock, and knowledge-sharing. FAO’s work contributes immensely to food security, poverty alleviation, and rural development.
Accordingly, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy and is a source of knowledge and information.
FAO was founded in 1945, with headquarters in Rome, Italy. The Organization started working in Liberia in 1977, partnering with the government and people, UN agencies, food sector NGOs, and other partners.
Since 1977, FAO has worked all over Liberia building essential capacities of farmers and partners aimed at boosting food production through the rehabilitation of critically needed lowland farming infrastructure and schemes, providing quality inputs as well as policy assistance.
Achieving food security through the application of modern farming methods and collaboration with other agriculture sector partners within the framework of UNDAF and FAO’s strategic objectives is one of FAO’s overarching priorities. FAO has invested immensely in poultry production, fisheries and forestry sectors as well as livestock production.
Under its technical cooperation agreement with the Government of Liberia, FAO has recently funded three Technical Cooperation Projects worth over US$1.1 million for poultry production in Lofa County, fishery development in Grand Bassa County, and the establishment of a data base at the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in Monrovia.