Liberia: Africa Rice Begins Training for Farmers on Machinery Operations
Margibi County – Farmers in Margibi County on Tuesday, December 2, have begun a one-week training on farm machinery operation.
Africa Rice is conducting the on-field training in the Kaisaryan Village lower Margibi County.
The training is one of the activities designed under the EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Fish Farming System (IRFFS) project to strengthen food and nutrition security in Liberia.
Twenty farmers from across Margibi are participating in the week-long training.
According to the Agro-processing and Mechanization Expert at AfricaRice, Dr. Roger Ahouansou, the training focuses on imparting farmers with knowledge on the usage of small-scale farming machinery.
“AfricaRice wants to empower the farmers, build the capacity on how to use land preparation equipment and post-harvest equipment- such as the rice mill, the rice thresher,” he said.
“All of these are meant to enhance the farmers’ capacity that will increase production, therefore, strengthening food and nutrition security.”
Responding to a question about the selection of farmers, Dr. Ahouansou told journalists that Africa Rice selected farmers based on their performance records under the EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Farming System (IRFFS) project.
“We chose the best performing farmers. We have our focal person in each of the implementing counties, and he was helpful in the selection process,” he said.
The Country Representative of AfricaRice, Dr. Inoussa Akintayo said the introduction of farm machinery helps reduce the workload of household farmers during the land preparation phase and post-harvest phase of their production. He added that the machines will ensure efficiency and make the integrated rice-fish farming system attractive to the younger generation.
“Students from the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) are also participating in this training. It is good news for the nation. We should encourage young people by showing them the new technology. That is what I mean by we should make agriculture attractive for the coming generation.”
Additionally, Dr. Akintayo added that the EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Farming System (IRFFS) project is part of efforts to support the Liberian government’s quest to have farmers sustainably utilize the lowland.
“The focus on upland rice production is harmful to the environment because it encourages deforestation, and the yield is very low. So the Government is encouraging them to go to lowland production. The EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Farming System is facilitating this transition by building the capacity of household farmers,” he said.
The IRFFS project is a three-year project (2020-2021), that is being implemented by Africa Rice, World Fish in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), National Aquaculture and Fisheries Authority (NaFAA), and Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI).
The IRFFS project aims to improve food and nutrition security by transforming low-yielding, climate-risky traditional rice-fish production systems into more climate-resilient, high-yielding, resource-use-efficient systems in Liberia. It is being implemented in five counties – Gbarpolu, Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Margibi, and River Gee counties.
The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) is a Pan-African Center of Excellence for rice research, development and capacity building. It contributes to reducing poverty, achieving food and nutrition security and improving livelihoods of farmers and other rice value-chain actors in Africa by increasing the productivity and profitability of rice-based agri-food systems, while ensuring the sustainability of natural resources.
AfricaRice is one of 15 international agricultural research centers of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. It is also an intergovernmental association of African member countries.
It was established under the name “West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA)” by 11 African countries and officially began operating in 1971. Recognizing the strategic importance of rice in Africa and the effective geographic expansion of the organization, its Council of Ministers took a historic decision in 2009 to change the organization’s name to “Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)”.
Today AfricaRice’s membership comprises 28 African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda.
AfricaRice’s strength lies in its locally-tailored rice research-for-development capacity with on-the-ground knowledge and networks. The Center has led ground-breaking work on many fronts that is transforming the lives of millions of rural households in Africa. It has contributed significantly to boosting Africa’s rice sector through improved seeds, cropping practices, processing technologies, policy advice and capacity development.
The modus operandi of the Center is partnership at all levels. Its research and development activities are conducted in collaboration with various stakeholders—primarily the national agricultural research systems (NARS), academic institutions, advanced research institutions, farmers’ organizations, non-governmental organizations and donors—for the benefit of millions of African farmers and other actors of the rice value chain for whom rice means food and livelihoods.
Headquartered in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, AfricaRice has a staff complement of about 230 members, out of which 40 are internationally recruited staff, based in Côte d’Ivoire and in research stations in Madagascar, Nigeria and Senegal and in project sites in Liberia and Uganda.
AfricaRice receives funding from governments, foundations, international financial institutions, development banks, the private sector, as well as from the CGIAR Trust Fund.