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 University, The Cadmus Group, and the Center for Development and Population Activities.
Activities are underway in Bong, Nimba, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Montserrado and Lofa counties. Activities in the counties mentioned above for this month began with the planning of activities for UDP, ISFM and voucher programs took place with input supply chain actors in Monrovia, Lofa, Bong, and Nimba Counties with 4 IFDC STTAs. Additionally, weekly vegetable demonstration training continues for the 13sites in Montserrado and Margibi counties, wherein seedling replacement is being carried out due to the damages caused by excessive rain after transplanting. Training was conducted by FED STTA, Matthew Curtis, for the Peri-urban team on the collection of soil samples. GPS training was also conducted by the GPS unit for the extension agents to enable them to accurately measure plot sizes and way points.
Rice demonstrations are currently ongoing in Nimba, Grand Bassa, Bong and Lofa Counties. In Nimba County, the power tiller has completed plowing 5 of the 7 lowland sites while the other 2 sites will be done manually. Transplanting is ongoing at the same time; the farmer groups have completed planting of local rice variety provided by them along with NERICA 2,and are waiting for the last variety to be planted. In Grand Bassa, transplanting has begun at one of the five lowland sites while others are clearing and plowing at the same time.
The farmers groups in Bong are plowing manually awaiting the seedlings from nursery to get ready for transplanting at all of the 5 lowland sites. In Lofa transplanting has begun at one of the 6 lowland sites while the hired power tiller is plowing. The 2 upland sites have been planted with NERICA 2 and a local variety. The second variety is to be provided by FED before planting.
A day participatory training on improved cassava varieties and planting methods was held in Bong Mine, Bong County on July 2 2012.Twenty five (25) participants from Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Grand, Bassa and Montserrado Counties participated in the training. Cassava demonstration is ongoing in a total of 22 communities (5 communities in Bong, 5 in Grand Bassa-5, 5 in Lofa and 7 in Nimba). The demonstration is carried out on a 2.0 hectare plot at each community. The project is working with 22 farming groups of 25 members each. The cassava varieties demonstrated at the sites include CARICA 1, 2, & 3, II-25, Bassa Girl and O-57.
Initial consultations have been completed for the development of a National Livestock Policy. FED Livestock Policy Specialist, David Land, arrived and spent ten days with initial discussion regarding planning for future in-depth consultancy and development of a National Livestock Policy draft for review. Ministry of Agriculture and MOA Livestock counterparts were identified and programmed for the work to begin in September and negotiations completed for finalization of purchase order to engage BRAC/NGO to begin execution of the National PPR Sheep and Goat vaccination campaign in early August 2012.
During this month, the following business management and skills trainings were conducted:
- Enterprise Development Plan Pilot training workshop for SMEs and Producer groups was held in Nimba with a total of 42 participants from 15 groups from July 5 – 6, 2012.
- Developing a Business Plan for a New Venture for SMEs in Bong County with a total of 20 participants from 17 groups from July 18-20, 2012.
- Market Research Methodology seminar was held Monrovia for SMEs on July 25, 2012 with a total of 10 participants from 10 groups.
- Trainings on improve cassava and planting methods were held in Bong, Nimba, Lofa and Grand Bassa Counties from July 2 – 23, 2012 with a total 290 participants from 30 groups.
- Training on rice was also held in Bong, Nimba, Lofa, and Grand Bassa Counties with a total of 433 participants from 19 groups.
- A Tube Well Training was conducted in Nimba with seven (7) participants from one (1) group.
- Doumpa Community Agriculture Project received a Computer Training with a total seven (7) participants from one (1) group.
- Vegetable Production training was held in Margibi County with eleven (11) participants from one (1) group.
Requests of interest of Lead Farmer Goat producers in each county were executed by radio in the counties in various dialects. Responses will serve to identify partner goat producers for the Community Goat Pass-on Scheme to begin.
On July 31, 2012, phase one of the Internship Program was launched and this activity will be carried out in phases for the duration of the FED program. For the first phase, 61 students were selected from four universities and technical schools (University of Liberia, United Methodist University, Nimba County Community College and Booker Washington Institute) from across the country. The purpose of the internship program is to create the space for senior students and recent graduates interested in agriculture to put their classroom learning into practice. Students will gain practical knowledge and experience, as well as required technical skills for marketable fields. In addition, the program will hope to provide employment and self-employment opportunities through mentorship and training at various enterprises and public institutions.
During the month of July, activities at the Doumpa Agriculture Project reached its highest peak, with the completion of transplanting of lowland rice from nurseries to the 56 plots on 2.232 ha of lowland. Currently, rice has started tailoring and the first harvest of vegetables is expected to start the first week in August 2012 and continues for the next six month.