Dr. Fallah and Liberian Students in Rwanda to Bring New Agriculture Technology to Liberia
KIGALI, Rwanda – Dr. Mosoka P. Fallah, Program Manager for Africa’s saving lives and livelihood, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and some Liberian students studying in Rwanda have planned to come to Liberia this year to introduce what they have termed as “an Advanced Agriculture Project.” According to them, this project will help farmers yield more in production.
By Mae Azango, [email protected]
In an exclusive interview during the recently ended conference on Public Health in Africa, Dr. Fallah, who once headed the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), said since been out of Liberia, he always tried to connect with Liberian students studying outside of Liberia. And when he visited Rwanda sometimes last year, he saw some Liberians attending universities in that country. He got to know that there were around 750 Liberians studying in Rwanda. Some of them took him to one of their instructors at one of the universities and the professor introduced him to a new technology called ‘internet of things’ (IOT).
“This technology is used to increase the productivities for farmers to yield in agriculture. I intend to bring these students to Liberia so that we can introduce this new technology in the country. It is a simple technology that works this way: A person can be way in Monrovia and have a farm in Gbarnga, Bong County, and a small instrument can be placed in the soil and it tells that person what to grow in that particular soil without guessing. The internet of things can be used for farmers, security and many other things. The Liberian students in Rwanda have already developed their agriculture plans for Liberia,” he disclosed.
Dr. Fallah said the instructor of the program, told him the Rwandan government sent some Rwandans to Japan and all of what they studied and learned in Japan, they brought back to Rwanda. Now the experts are in agriculture, health care and medical records keeping.
“Since these Rwandans returned and started putting into place what they have learned, agriculture productivity for example, has greatly increased. Farmers are now spending less and getting more. All these are happening because the Rwandan government selected these people and trained them into entrepreneurship, because government cannot give everybody jobs,” Dr. Fallah quoted the Rwanda lecturer.
It is not yet known how capital intensive such a project will cost the Government of Liberia. In the 2022 annual budget, Liberia’s Ministry of Agriculture was allocated US$5.5 million, representing 0.05% for the fiscal year. This amount seemed small at the time, because Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper, had appealed to the Ways, Means & Budget Committee of the House of Representatives to increase it to at least US$17 million, equivalent to 2% of the 2022 Budget. There are no reports whether that ever happened.
Based on this backdrop, Dr. Fallah added: “It is either we can wait for the government to find time to do it, or we do it through ourselves through private sectors and NGOs involved in agriculture. So before government can get there for us, individual Liberians have to start their own initiatives in making things happen.”
Laws are not Suggestions
Speaking on the Rwandan capital, Kigali, being one of the cleanest cities in Africa, Dr. Fallah said when his office wanted to run its programs across the continent, they selected two countries, Rwanda and Morocco for very intentional reasons: including structure, system and the rate in which they are accelerating their vaccines.
“Rwanda is one of the countries where you have 100 percent helmet-use compliance for all motorcycle users. I asked one of my Rwandan friends why it is this way, he said in Rwanda, ‘Laws are not suggestions.’ He said they ensure that laws are enforced out to the letter. No matter what laws and policies you put in place for clean cities, when they become suggestions, people will do whatever they want to do and when it comes to doing the right thing, it becomes a problem.’ In Rwanda, they have hired people to clean the streets and they are doing their jobs diligently because there is a reward system for doing the right things and punishment for doing the wrong things,” he said.
“Let’s take a step back in Liberia, do we have strong laws? Have we created an environment where people are paid well to clean the streets? Ethiopia planted 16 million trees two years ago; you find women planting trees in the streets and they are rewarded. How many reward systems are we creating for people to clean their streets? How are we effectively enforcing those laws?” Dr. Fallah asked.