Monrovia – The Farmers’ Cooperative of Tarlesson Farms, with 200,000 producers and farmers has announced that farmers across Liberia are not benefiting from seed crops and supplies given to them by international donors.
The group in a release averred that billions of United States Dollars from the International Community intended for youth employment, farmers, poor people economic recovery, health and medical needs and the fight against hunger, poverty and acute human suffering in Liberia have not been used for the intended purposes.
Because of the situation, the group said the living conditions of Liberians are getting progressively worse; adding: “The apparent World Bank policy of “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” toward corrupt Liberian Government officials has not only encouraged further corruption, but contributed to the prolonged hardship of the poor that the program was supposed to help.”
“The National Farmer Cooperative of Tarlesson Farms Incorporated, with 200,000 producers/farmers across Liberia, dearly appreciates and commends the World Bank, African Development Bank, United States Assistance for International Development (USAID), and other international partners, donors, investors, etc. for providing millions if not billions of United States dollars from the International Community, intended for youth employment, farmers, poor people, economic recovery, health/medical needs, and to fight hunger, poverty, and acute human suffering in Liberia.”
“Unfortunately the people to whom the funds were intended have not received the majority of those dollars raised on behalf of the needy in Liberia, or benefited from those dollars, and living conditions in Liberia are getting progressively worse.”
In the released signed by the President of the National Farmer Cooperative of Tarlesson Farms Inc, Reverend Roosevelt Tarlesson, the farmers claimed that the World Bank purchased 10,500 tons of crop seeds for the 2015 crop season, costing US$15 million to be distributed to Liberian farmers; however it maintained that evidence shows that very little of that US$15 million worth of crop seeds went to farmers in Liberia.
It also alleged that in addition to the money for crop seeds, more than US$400 million was reportedly allocated to address hardship and poverty in Liberia between 2015 and 2017, but these interventions have not reached the actual beneficiaries despite numerous efforts it has made to get redress from relevant authorities.
“In 2016 and 2017, the National Farmer Cooperative of Tarlesson Farms Incorporated and its 200,000 farmers across Liberia hand delivered written requests to the World Bank, Liberian Ministry of Agriculture, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and to Legislators of ten of the fifteen counties for crop seeds, basic work tools such as cutlasses/machetes, and financial assistance.”
“But on February 15, 2017, former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Moses Zinnah replied that there was no money in their budget to fund farmers. And the World Bank, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and elected senators and representatives of those ten counties have been silent to our requests for farm aid. (The ten counties whose representatives did not respond to our requests for farm aid are: River Gee, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Grand Kru, Nimba, Gbapolu, River Cess and Margibi).”
The group avowed that farmers and people in rural communities and villages across Liberia are ready to eradicate hunger, poverty, youth unemployment, and revise the Liberian agro-economy themselves.
But sadly, the group lamented, more Liberians are dying today from hunger and hardship than during the Ebola Virus crisis partly due to the immediate and emergency US$15 million crop seeds intervention that the Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), World Bank and other International partners and donors had purchased, and hundreds of millions of United States dollars raised on behalf of farmers, youth employment, and poor people did not address the conditions, or even get to the people the money was intended to help.
It furthered asserted that thousands of farmers in Liberia are struggling to find basic and critical resources such as hand tools and crop seeds as a result and warned that conditions in Liberia will become catastrophic if farmers do not get immediate emergency help for the 2018 crop season, which began in November, 2017.
Citing the World Bank, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) reports, the farmers union said 170,000 people in Liberia are food insecure and the number of hungry people could top 300,000.
In 2015, according to “Accra, Feb. 13, 2015, GNA; Feb. 12, 2015 World Bank press release - the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), said 170,000 people in Liberia are food insecure and, absent interventions, the number of hungry people could top 300,000.
It intoned that farmers and youth (18-35 years of age) in Liberia are eager to help improve living conditions in the country, and end hunger, unemployment, and economic malaise; while at the same time appealed to World Bank, African Development Bank, USAID, International partners and donors and all friends of Liberia to fund Liberian farmers directly.
It furthered that because the World Bank report shows that hungry farming families in Liberia have resorted to eating stored seed originally intended for use in the next cropping cycle, investing in farmers directly will support and sustain employment and agricultural production.
The National Farmer Cooperative of Tarlesson Farms, Incorporated firmly believes that if only half of the $500 million in aid goes to the farmers, a crisis will be averted; and as such proposed splitting up of the US$500 million in aid into two this year, with half going to the government, and the other half going to the National Farmer’s Cooperative with the challenge being that both groups are to track where the aid goes, and the results.
“Make no mistake, we do not believe for a moment that the task of getting the seed, tools, and support to the farmers will be easy, but we will welcome the task, and truly hope that with the challenge of tracking where the aid goes in place, the government will clean up its act as well.”
“We can’t suggest that all problems will be resolved in the first year, but propound that if attempted, barring armed intervention, there will be noticeable improvements in the lives of Liberians before the next years planting season that within three years, hunger will have been eradicated and that within eight years, Liberia will be a net exporter of food, and good will, with abundance for all.
“We ask the World Bank, UN, UNDP, USAID, EU, African Development Bank, and other International partners, donors, investors (public/private, etc.) across the globe to adapt this challenge, and in this way, invest in the farmers directly, and thereby improve agriculture, food security, youth employment, and those in need,” the farmer grouped urged.