Liberia: Lone Farmer Urges Amalgamation of Farmers into Corporative to Lure Gov’t Support
Grand Bassa County – A local farmer in Neekreen Grand Bassa County is calling on agriculturists across the country to unite into cooperatives so as to compel the government’s support to the sector.
Report by Mustapha Emile Kommeh, Student of Mass Com, University of Liberia
Sam S. Williams says agriculture is a key component to the growth and development of Liberia’s economy.
He says there are lots of farmers in various counties, who are making strides with their various involvements in growing food crops but do not have the capacity to grow enough to sustain their communities due to lack of supports to expand their projects.
Mr. Williams is optimistic that once farmers amalgamate and form “credible farmer institutions” such as farmer unions and corporative, they can influence government and lure more support including the provision of loans, seeds, tools, and technical skills.
With such support, he said there will be large scale farming across the country which could supply the local markets and improve food security.
“The Ministry of Agriculture’s duty is to give recommendations through their technicians, give tools, seeds and loans. The farmers’ duty is to ask for assistance in loan, tools and other technical assistance, but the government will not assist individuals except us, farmers, come together as one body,” Williams says.
Williams is currently working to develop a 10-acre swampland into the agricultural site. He is currently supplying eggplants, bitter balls, and hot pepper, amongst other vegetables.
He transports these vegetables to the local markets in Buchanan City but says although his supply is limited due to low scale productivity, it’s been positively impactful.
“When it’s time to harvest this place is usually parked with marketers who come here from the general market to buy. The fact that they’re able to save monies they could have used to transport themselves and their goods from faraway places; and the fact that they’re buying at farm-gate, which makes the buying price for them less as compared to buying outside, it means we are making a significant impact”- Mr. Williams said.
Williams and his team harvested and stored over 300 bundles of rice. He’s confident that the rice is processed, it could amount to 30 bags of 25kg each.
The Bassa agriculturist is also growing pineapple, fresh tomatoes, and corn, among other crops.
Williams, who was trained by the Ministry of Agriculture, is now training more than eight young people.
However, he faces several challenges including the procurement of pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals, coupled with the shortage of water during the dry season.
“During the dry season, we have to find ways to pump water in our reservoir to water young plants and create artificial shade for the growing plants. We have to go to as far as Kakata, Margibi County sometimes to buy cow manure which we mix with the soil before planting. This costs us a lot,” he said.
Williams says a successful agriculture work is expensive and difficult to achieve in the absence of adequate support; thereby calling on government to be intentional about supporting formers and prioritizing agriculture as a surest mean of building the Country’s food security.