The Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program for Liberia is a USAID-funded initiative that began in September 2011. Through implementing a Liberian strategy which incorporates women and youth, FED will help the government of Liberia and the country achieve food security — in terms of food availability, utilization, and accessibility — by building an indigenous incentive structure that assists a range of agricultural stakeholders to adopt commercial approaches.
This incentive structure will be built upon:
- Improved technology for productivity and profitability;
- Expanded and modernized input supply and extension systems;
- Commercial production, marketing, and processing;
- Enterprise Services; and
- Workforce Development.
FED’s activities will work with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the private sector to link communities to agricultural inputs (including improved seeds), extension services, nutritious food products, processing services, market information, transportation, credit, and appropriate education, training, and enterprise services.
Over the life of the five-year FED program, expanded market linkages will lead to substantial income and job growth and major increases in the production, processing, marketing, and nutritional utilization of rice, cassava, vegetables, and goats in Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, and Margibi counties. These counties are being targeted in the context of regional development corridors that foster intra- and inter-county commerce, simultaneously improving food availability and access for all Liberians.
FED’s methodology is market-led, value chain-driven, continuously dedicated to indigenous capacity building, and specifically focused on benefiting Liberia’s women and youth. FED’s approach aims to be collaborative, catalytic, and driven by the goals and objectives of our partner clients. It will lead to increases in incomes for rural households, new employment opportunities for Liberians, increased access to food and improved household dietary diversity scores for food-insecure Liberians, and the adoption of improved inputs, farming practices, and technologies which boost agricultural productivity.
FED is implemented by seven partners including: Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), Winrock International, International Fertilizer Developmental Center (IFDC), Samaritan’s Purse, Louisiana State University, The Cadmus Group, and the Center for Development and Population Activities.
Increasing Agriculture Productivity and Profitability
In January 2013, the Input Supply Team visited Arjay Farm to meet with the outgrowers working = in various communities in lower Margibi and upper Montserrado Counties. A series of meetings were held with the outgrowers to discuss their activity plans for 2013. next plan of action for the 2013 cropping season. The equipment will be used by the outgrowers organized into farming groups by Arjay Farm. The following communities were visited: Kingsville/Montserrado, Doemon Town/Margibi, Fahn Seh Town Todee/Montserrado, and Harrisburg/Montserrado.
The Rice Officer visited Bong, Lofa, Montserrado, and Nimba counties to verify the farmer groups preselected for year two rice value chain activities and to identify potential areas for improved water management. During this period, the Rice Officer completed the selection of farming groups and seeds producers with a total of 144 farming groups and 17 seed producers selected. In Nimba, 33 groups were selected in 9 districts, 48 groups selected in 10 districts in Bong, 42 groups selected in 6 districts in Lofa, and 19 groups in 4 districts in Grand Bassa; 2 groups were selected in 2 districts of Montserrado County.
FED, in collaboration with the Agency for Economic Development and Empowerment (AEDE) and New Generational Women (NGW), met to discuss the possibility of cultivating 75 acres of land for a cassava production project. The NGW project is designed to eventually establish a processing center for gari production. The organization’s close proximity to market centers, ports, and airports can facilitate future export initiatives.
The Liberia Renaissance Education Complex (LREC) and FED are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the cultivation of cassava, assorted vegetables, and oil palm. Fisheries will also be included to fully utilize the entire land, which also has a swamp and to introduce in-land fish culture to the students.
Farmers interviewed thus far, have not yet commenced initial land preparation for cassava, but some have commenced land clearing for upland rice. This indicates that the concept of intercropping cassava with rice is not yet explained to these farmers. Some expressed the fear of the cassava overshadowing the rice and will not allow good growth for the rice crop. FED will commence sensitizing farmers on cassava rice intercrop system to avoid the clearing of two fields for rice and cassava;. the technology for such cropping pattern will be demonstrated to them to facilitate this process. This would avoid unnecessary clearing and at the same time reduce the labor input as well as monitoring and supervision.
As part of FEDyear 2 workplan, the PUA team has started working with 51 groups in its six counties of interventions. Forty one groups out of the 51 groups were verified during a field visit to Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Montserrado, and Margibi counties. During the visit, sites were identified for the cultivation of assorted vegetables; land agreements were signed with selected groups and land owners to ascertain access to land over an agreed period of time.
Stimulate Private Enterprise
A one day Buyer meeting was held in Ganta, Nimba County with the HANDS Project which is one of the major cassava producing and processing groups in Nimba. The objective for the meeting centered on cassava production and the processing of Gari in Liberia. The HANDS Project is willing and ready to jump start these activities by purchasing at the different agreed upon locations. Over 70 people attended, in addition to the FED Component Two Enterprise Development Specialist, Market Linkages Officer, Communication, and ED Assistant.. While still in Nimba County, the ED team visited six farming groups to ascertain information relating to their ongoing activities.
Subah Belleh Associates (SBA) completed the Stake Holder Profile surveys in the six counties. The total number of interviews conducted exceeded 500. SBA has prepared and submitted a draft report of their findings and has received feedback from FED technical team for presentation and finalization of final report shortly.
The Rights & Rice Foundation (R&R), an IQC holder, has completed Organization Strengthening training for nine groups (258 participants, 159 females and 99 males) in Bong, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Bassa counties. A final report is expected the first week of February 2013.
Creating Center of Excellence
Component Three is in the process of responding to the MoE’s BSTVSE request for financial and technical assistance to complete the National Diploma in Agriculture for Post-Secondary School’s Job Readiness TVET mandate. The vocational teacher training specialist is taking the lead to follow through on a mutually agreeable way to move forward. In this request a document is to be created and approved so that Community Colleges and other post-secondary institutions will have a curriculum that is standardized for the country and meets the requirements of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) guidelines.
FED has begun actively contacting universities, community colleges and post-secondary institutions to offer 170 internship positions for the second phase of the FED-sponsored internship program. The University of Liberia, United Methodist University, Cuttington University, Stella Maris Technical University, BWI, GBCC, NCCC, LCCC are all considered for internship opportunities provided they have qualified agriculture and business senior and/or recently graduated students who can apply and pass a rigorous interview process.
During this period, field visits were conducted in two of the counties of FED’s interventions, Bong and Nimba counties. Selected communities in these counties were visited, with farming groups interviewed, as well as meetings with field office staff. The objective of the trip was to capture the impacts of best management practices proposed from previously held trainings to staff and farmer groups. Farmers’ views on yields from lowland rice and upland rice production as well as constraints and advantages were also noted. Communities visited include Yarnquellie (Margibi County), Duaita (Bong County), Whynor and Doumpa (Nimba County).
The Community Mobilizing Officer arrived in Liberia early January 2013 and began work by holding a series of meetings at the county level. During this period, the Community Mobilizer Officer, held meetings with Nimba county staff and discussed the importance of women and youth participation into FED interventions with current partners in Nimba.
Currently, the Community Mobilizing Officer is working on developing a stakeholder profile database so that it can capture all components and activities that FED is doing with partners, beneficiaries, and stakeholders.