Story from the Liberian Observer Online:
Rural Women Farmers Trained in Mechanized Production
Updated: September 10, 2009 – 8:36pm
Cross-section of participants at CARI workshop for rural women
US$777,000 Earmarked for Training, Others
By: Edwin M. Fayia from Bong County
MONROVIA — The Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in collaboration with several major donors as well as support partners, have begun the training for more than 74 women farmer groups in three of Liberia’s leading agriculture-oriented counties.
As a result of a negotiated grant of more than US$777,000 from the Government of Demark, the FAO and CARI have selected Lofa, Bong and Nimba Counties for the training of the rural women farmers in the use of power tiller machines in order to maximize the production of the nation’s staple food, rice.
Speaking at the formal launch of the 17-day training at CARI in Suakoko, Bong County, last week, Liberia’s Acting Agriculture Minister, James Logan, urged the rural women to remain grateful to Liberian leader, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for empowering women in the country.
Logan added that as a result of the nationwide County Development Agenda, the critical issue of women in the farming sector has become a key factor. Now women are on the verge of being trained in the use of mechanized farming for the production of more food, they should indeed take center stage in that regard.
He then appealed to the participants to consider the 17-day training as crucial and take the instruction seriously in order to make the message of improved food security across the nation meaningful.
Logan also challenged the women to use the power tillers to cultivate more acres of land in their operational areas in order to ensure that more food is produced for the growth and development of the Liberian economy in the years ahead.
The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) official also reminded the gathering and the women in particular that the Liberian leader spends sleepless nights thinking about possible alternatives for the overall empowerment and support to all Liberian women across the country.
In his overview presentation, Emmanuel G. Vah, National Consultant for the FAO Liberia, intimated that the training workshop was meant to train farmers in the operation, management and maintenance of power tillers.
The agriculture project, titled “Improved Food Security and Nutrition through Economic Empowerment of Women,” was also geared towards reducing the pressure on women in rural Liberia.
“Within the framework of agriculture,” Vah disclosed, “FAO has received funding from the Danish Government and charged us with the responsibility of providing support to farm mechanization, agro-processing and farm level storage.”
The DANIDA agriculture, he explained, has a case load of 7,961 beneficiaries comprising 43 women groups in the rural women structure of Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties.
FAO Assistant Representative for Program in Liberia, Joseph K. Boiwu, pointed out that everywhere the Liberian Government and partners interacted with farmers in the country, the issue of farmers graduating from the use of cutlasses and hoes topped the list of issues for consideration.
“This is to show you that the idea to introduce power tillers in the agriculture sector at this time came from you the farmers,” he told the women.
“It is therefore our hope that you will appreciate the introduction and use of these machines to ensure food production in the country.
“Our agency being a true partner and not a donor took bold steps on behalf of the farmers regarding their interest in mechanization and agro-processing in the country,” Boiwu emphasized.
“Today, we want to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Government and people of Denmark for the grant that will in turn empower rural women farmers across the nation,” he said.
He added that in their initial interaction, the Danish International Development Aid (DANIDA), representatives of the donor country, expressed high interest in supporting those activities that are women-related.
“In Liberia,” he explained, “when it comes to farming, the issues of scratching farms and planting of crops as well as food processing are the responsibility of rural women in the country.
Mr. Boiwu further intimated that the FAO is indeed grateful to the major partners such as the United Nations Development Program, Ministry of Gender and Development, World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations Agency for Women (UNIFEM).
He also reminded the women the ‘butter rice’ and ‘pussava’ being imported into the country come from farmers that are using the same modern machines in the cultivation and agro-processing initiatives.
“We want to urge you to please attach seriousness to this genuine agriculture initiative in Liberia,” the FAO official further admonished the rural women farmers.
In closing, Boiwu said that the FAO had been and would always be a partner of the Government and people of Liberia in food, agriculture, forestry and rural development matters.
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