The Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program for Liberia is a USAID-funded initiative that began implementing a strategy, incorporating women, youth and the government of Liberia to support the agriculture sector in achieving 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 is built upon:
- Improved technology and management practices 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) and the private sector to link communities to agricultural inputs (including improved seeds), extension services, nutritious food products, processing services, market information, transportation, credit, as well as appropriate education, training, and enterprise services.
Over the life of the five-year FED program, expanded market linkages will lead to substantial income and private enterprise growth along with 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 increased incomes for rural households, new employment opportunities for Liberians, expanded access to food and improved household dietary diversity scores for food-insecure Liberians, in addition to the adoption of improved inputs, farming practices, and technologies which boost agricultural productivity.
FED is implemented by five partners including: Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), Winrock International, International Fertilizer Developmental Center (IFDC), Louisiana State University and CADMUS.
FED celebrated a big victory in the first month of the fiscal year after five FED supported vegetable farmer groups in Montserrado and Margibi counties signed loans with local MFI Liberia Entrepreneurial & Asset Development (LEAD) totaling $880,000 LD ($11,000 USD). Three groups signed loans worth $1,875 USD, another for $2,250 and the fifth group, $3,125 USD.
Prior to receiving the loans, FED assisted all five groups with opening bank accounts at EcoBank and setting up proper financial record keeping systems in order to qualify for the loans. The loan terms are set at six months with a of 16% interest. Though the loans have been given to qualified individual farmers, LEAD requires that each farmer is involved in a structured group in order to maintain accountability.
FED also furthered its work with the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders in the area of agriculture policy by organizing a policy roundtable discussion to address investment incentives, seed, livestock, rice and land policies.
FED and the Ministry of Education distributed the National Diploma Curriculum for Agriculture to four high schools and the three community colleges for testing during the current academic school year.
Farmers assisted in FY13 continued harvesting rice in lowland and upland sites across the six counties, Lofa, Nimba, Bong, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado. The majority of the 20 Ultra Deep Placement (UDP) sites have been harvested. Initial results across FED supported rice farms showed very encouraging yields ranging from three to over five metric tons per hectare.
FED and partners judged the participating student gardens of the Back-to-School Garden Competition. The program forms part of FED’s initiative to invigorate Liberia’s youth with agriculture and give them the tools and knowledge to turn farming activities into a viable profession. Each garden was judged according to gardener’s motivation, use of improved methods and creativity used during activities. The Little Bassa Public School Garden was voted number one from the 20 participating schools.
The FED team presented its FY14 Workplan and strategies on October 30, 2013 to officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, representatives from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, BWI, community colleges, USAID projects and USAID Officials.
Implementation of FED’s Workplan for FY14 has commenced with county teams focusing recruitment of new farmers for FY14.