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.
In October 2012, Diosis and African rice gall midge damage were observed in Bong and Nimba counties. At the NCCC demonstration site, FED observed that insects, nutrient deficiency, and water management were the main problems. Diosis, case worm, and African rice gall midge was responsible for some of the damage done to the rice. At a few of the sites, iron toxicity and water management problems were also observed.
In Bong County, the damage of NERICA L19 at the Totota demonstration site was also caused by insects. At the Zeansue site considerable damage was done by uncontrolled weed growth. In Grand Bassa County, weed growth was a problem at the Yarmah Town site.
The updating of the input supplies interventions action plan from September to December 2012 was finalized and IFDC regional director for the Northern and West Africa Division paid a weeklong visit to the FED project. During his visit, he met with selected partners, including MoA, CARI, agro-input dealers, and rice seed producers and assured them that IFDC through FED will continue to support the integration of input supply interventions into lowland and upland rice, cassava, and vegetable value chains activities. Integration of the FED action plan into regional input supply strategies will also receive attention.
Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) training was conducted in the four main FED counties of operation (Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa, and Nimba) and encompassed classroom sessions and visits to FED-led cassava demonstration plots. The main objectives of the classroom sessions were to interact with cassava producers and county extension workers, share knowledge, and determine knowledge gaps. About 355 cassava producers and extension officers from the MoA and FED participated in the trainings.
In Montserrado and Margibi counties, harvest continued at the FED peri-urban sites. Fifty members from the Yarnquelleh and Air town demonstration sites were instructed in the harvesting of carrots and bitter ball. During the harvest demonstration session the 50 farmers (33 men, 17 women) were taught how and when to harvest carrots and bitter ball. The training also demonstrated selection of appropriate cultivars during harvest for seed extraction.
Implementation of the Goat Pass-on Schemes began in three (Nimba, Lofa, and Bong) of the FED focus counties. Responses to public solicitation for farmers willing and able to serve as lead farmers in Goat Pass-on Schemes were evaluated, and based on extensive field site visits of short-listed candidates, twelve lead farmer associations have been selected (five in Nimba and Lofa counties, and two in Bong County) for participation in the program.
Numerators from Subah Belleh Associates underwent a three-day data collection training. Currently, the Subah Belleh Associates is conducting a stakeholder survey within the four FED major counties of operations, Bong, Nimba, Lofa, and Grand Bassa.
Three interns, including two women, also completed the training to build their skill set in project management and technology in agriculture. Participants presented on their training and created a sample electronic survey on agriculture. The training was conducted by the FED ICT specialist MTTA, and included presentations by Grameen Foundation, Episurveyor, and USAID LAUNCH.
A rapid ICT assessment was conducted on MoA’s extension system (Activity 2.3 d. MoA Extension Service Assessment and Implementation). Primary findings included 1) MoA extension forms are not standardized among counties, 2) Computer literacy is a barrier for CACs using computers to send data to MoA and 3) the newly implemented free calling/texting program has increased communication within the extension system, but not all members are aware of conference calls. Further recommendations and findings will be provided in a separate report.
A two-day capacity building training workshop for FED’s interns was held in Montserrado and Bong counties with 58 interns in attendance. The purpose of the workshop was to review progress and assess the skills and knowledge the interns have gained from their various placements. During the workshop, the following topics were covered: leadership, goal-setting, interviewing, resume and cover letter writing, agribusiness, FED value chains, project management, and service learning.
In celebration of World Food Day, held every year on October 16, FED collaborated with Child Art Liberia, a local nongovernmental organization, in a competition called “Agricultural Cooperatives—Key to Feeding the World.” Catering to 8-to 18-year-old artists from middle schools in each of FED’s six areas of operation, the competition portrayed scenes of kids and families growing food together. The contest has been held in concert with other World Food Day events and activities organized by the MoA and Liberia-based FAO chapter.
The review of the Environmental Mitigation and Monitoring Plan (EMMP) is near completion and selected site visits were conducted at FED’s PUA unit in Yanquellie and FED’s MoA demonstration site in Margibi County. The aim was to reinforce FED’s position on best management practices for agriculture productivity. Farmers were assessed in their knowledge acquired in managing the impact of agricultural activities from ongoing trainings. From observation, while trainings in soil management techniques have been developed, they should be complemented with efforts from IFDC, and inclusive of integrated soil fertility management, which is in line with integrated pest management issues.
During the month of October, FED received the draft DQA report from L-MEP outlining the findings and recommendations on FED’s data management and reporting system. FED reviewed the findings and responded to L-MEP, copying USAID, with planned lines of action to address any areas identified as needing improvement and strengthening. FED also completed data entry into the USAID’s PIDS system covering the first year of the program. This data was matched to the Indicator Progress Table data which was included in the annual report to USAID. This process required review, verification, and cleanup of data collected earlier in the year to ensure accuracy for both PIDS and the annual report.
In preparation for year two of the program, FED revised the PMP and indicator table based on the revised year two work plan, and continued to work on revisions to the work plan, incorporating initial USAID feedback into their plans for year two.