The Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program for Liberia is a USAID-funded development program that was launched in September 2011. USAID FED uses an all-inclusive strategy incorporating MSME farmers, processors, suppliers, women and youth while partnering with the government of Liberia and local civil societies to achieve food security.
The goal of USAID FED is to increase food availability, utilization, and accessibility by building an indigenous incentive structure that assists agricultural stakeholders in adopting 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
- Workforce development
FED works with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), civil societies and the private sector in providing communities access to agricultural inputs (including improved seeds), extension services, nutritious food products, processing services, market information, transportation, credit, agro-business education, training, and enterprise services.
In five years, FED’s thrust to expand market linkages is expected to lead to substantial increases in income and job opportunities. FED aims to significantly boost the production, processing, marketing and nutritional utilization of rice, cassava and vegetables, and to enhance the productivity of goat farming in the counties covered by the program.
These initiatives are being carried out in the counties of Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, and Margibi. FED focused on these counties because they are situated along regional development corridors that are crucial in promoting intra and inter-county commerce. These growth corridors are expected to improve food availability and access for all Liberians.
FED’s methodology is market-led and value chain-driven; it is committed to develop indigenous capacity building, with specific focus on Liberia’s women and youth.
FED’s approach is collaborative and catalytic. It is driven by the goals and objectives of our partner clients. It aims to increase incomes of rural households and create new employment and livelihood opportunities for Liberians; to improve access to food and household dietary diversity scores of food-insecure Liberians; and to promote the use of improved inputs, better farming practices, and technologies that boost agricultural productivity.
FED is implemented by five partners, namely: Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), Winrock International, International Fertilizer Developmental Center (IFDC), Louisiana State University (LSU), and The Cadmus Group.
FED’s major activities in the period include harvesting over 20ha of lowland and upland rice in Lofa and Bong counties, including the continued harvest of fields engaged in Urea Deep Placement (UDP) methods of fertilizing.
On November 14th, a FED team traveled along with a high level delegation from the US Embassy including the Ambassador Deborah Malac to Bong Mines, Bong County where the Fuama District Cooperative Farmers launched their first rice harvest. Earlier in the year, FED had demonstrated UDP techniques to fertilize lowland rice fields and farmer leaders and FED staff made preliminary measurements the same day. The trials are expected to help farmers better understand the advantages of UDP.
US Ambassador Deborah Malac gave a speech congratulating hundreds of farmers present at the event saying, “Growing food is more than just growing something to eat. It’s about building a livelihood and building an economy. As Liberia is strengthened, we have to start with agriculture, because agriculture helps the country on every level. Here in Liberia, Feed the Future has so much potential to build a strong, prosperous and united Liberia. We want to help give you the skills and knowledge to help you guide your destiny.”
After the ceremony all guests marched down the field to the six UDP plots where the ambassador assisted with choosing random plots to carry out the measuring of the harvest. As a group, farmers and FED measured the UDP plot against the Urea Broadcast plot. The UDP plot resulted in 7.4 MT per hectare while the broadcast method yielded an estimated 6.1 MT per hectare.
Results from all of the UDP field trials have been analyzed and show that rice yields from the UDP plots are 17 percent higher than plots where broadcast method was used, and 30 percent higher than the traditional practice of not using any fertilization. Both UDP and broadcast plots have NPK, and the plots with broadcast treatment produced yields 11 percent higher than yields from plots with farmers’ practice. FED is currently working with World Bank team contracted by USAID Washington on developing the research mechanisms for a UDP impact evaluation in FY14.
Also in the period, an MOU between FED and Land O’ Lakes (USDA implementing partner) was signed, and construction initiated by FED on a goat quarantine facility located at Center of Agriculture Research Institute (CARI). The completed facility will be capable of housing up to 500 goats and will be the only livestock quarantine facility of its kind currently in Liberia. The facility will be used to house and quarantine a total of 5,000 disease resistant West African dwarf goats that will be imported in groups of 500 from Senegal over the next 9-10 months as part of a joint USAID/USDA/Government of Liberia (GOL) activity to renew goat herds in Liberia. In exchange for the construction of the facility, FED will receive 400 goats to distribute among its goat value chain beneficiaries, introducing a much needed new gene pool into the national herd. In addition, 100 goats will be maintained at CARI to establish a disease-free, nucleus breeding center.