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 is helping 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 agricultural stakeholders to adopt commercial approaches.
This incentive structure is being 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 work with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the private sector to link communities to agricultural inputs (including improved seeds), extension services, nutritious food, processing services, market information, transportation, credit, and appropriate education, training, and enterprise support services.
Over the life of the five-year FED program, expanded market linkages will lead to 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 six partners including: Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), the Cadmus Group, the Center for Development and Population Activities, International Fertilizer Developmental Center (IFDC), Louisiana State University, and Winrock International.
Increased Agriculture Productivity
During this quarter, activities in Bong, Nimba Margibi, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, and Lofa counties, included a series of trainings and field visits. The capacity building included: training of vegetable seedling producers at Booker Washington Institute, training of agro-dealers in Bong, an Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) training in a number of locations with a total of 355 cassava producers and extension officers from the MoA, and a training of 50 Peri Urban farmers (33 males and 17 females) from the Yarnquelleh and Air Town demonstration sites where they were taught how and when to harvest carrots and bitter balls. The training also demonstrated the selection of appropriate plants during harvest for seed saving.
The main objectives of the agro-dealer training session in Bong were to develop the capacity of agro-dealers on agro-input knowledge, handling and use, and to promote the establishment of four sales points in a pilot phase in FY-2013 (two in Bong and two in Nimba counties) through capacity building in investment plan development and the management of small input supply shops.
A rice harvest took place on October 23, 2012 at Women’s Organization for Peace and Development (WOFPD) site in Kahie, Kolahum District, Lofa County. During the harvest of the NERICA 2 rice variety, farmers expressed considerable satisfaction with the NERICA 2 rice variety because of its short growing duration. Harvest activities are continuing until the end of January 2013 in all four counties. The data for the rice yield survey was collected, and the results will be reported in the February 2013 monthly report.
Insect damage, iron toxicity, water management, and some nutrient deficiency problems were seen to be the main challenges at the rice demonstration sites. Diopsis, case worm and African rice gall midge were the main insects observed at the demonstration sites in Bong and Nimba.
Fifty one groups have been identified for the 2013 vegetable production in the six counties (Montserrado, Margibi, Bassa, Nimba, Bong and Lofa). Group sites are being cleared and some exotic seeds, such as okra and collards, have been sown both on nurseries and in the field. FED is currently in the process of procuring other local seeds e.g. hot pepper, bitter ball, etc.
An innovative technology for removing the husk from paddy rice was fabricated in a private metal workshop in Monrovia with the support of FED consultant, Mory Thiaw. This rice processing technology is lower in cost, lighter in weight, and more energy efficient than other intermediate-scale rice dehullers. Unlike other dehullers, it does not remove the bran from the paddy rice, making the consumption of the resulting dehulled rice more nutritious. To further address the post-harvest problems faced by farmers, a low cost parboiling drum was fabricated and demonstrated along with the impact rice dehuller in Neegbien, Nimba County. During the parboiling exercise, farmers were taught the entire process. They expressed satisfaction and interest because of the low cost and high capacity of the technology.
The Pesticide Evaluation Report and Safer Use Action Plan (PERSUAP) has been approved and FED is in the process of drafting its insects and pests control procedure which will help in controlling pest and insect attacks.
Implementation of the Goat Pass-on Schemes began in three (Nimba, Lofa, and Bong) of the four FED focus counties. Responses to a 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 and interviews of short-listed candidates, twelve lead farmer associations have been selected (five each in Nimba and Lofa counties, and two in Bong County) for participation in the goat pass on scheme program.
The goal of the Goat Pass-on Scheme and genetic improvement program is to improve returns to goat farmers by addressing genetic, health, and husbandry constraints. An estimated 15-16,000 sheep and goats are imported annually for sale in Liberia as meat. Currently, average carcass weight of the Liberian West African Dwarf goats is 9kg, while the Gambian WAD goats average is 13-14kg. Goats sell at twice the price of beef in supermarkets, importing 20,000 live Gambian goats’ equals a minimum of 100 ton extra goat meat per year.
Stimulate Private Enterprise
During this quarter, approximately 900–1,000 stakeholders’ surveys across the six FED counties of operation were completed by the Subah Belleh Associates (SBA), a local service provider. The total number of interviews conducted exceeded 500. SBA prepared a draft report of their findings by December 7, 2012. A presentation of their findings will be conducted the week of January 21, 2013.
The evaluation of the process for business plans and applications in response to the Enterprise Development Expression of Interest is still under review. Fourteen of the applications are participants that benefited from the FED six-week long mentorship program. An additional 15 concept notes and applications are being reviewed for possible MDF assistance funding.
Rights & Rice Foundation (R&R), an IQC holder, is currently conducting the first round of Organization Strengthening training for nine groups (267 participants, 189 female & 78 male) in Bong, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Bassa counties. To date, R&R has completed the training for two groups in Bong County and two groups in Grand Bassa. Training with two groups in Nimba County began December 10, 2012 and training for two groups in Lofa County will begin January 6, 2013.
FED, in collaboration with MoCI, has conducted a joint outreach activity to communicate policy reform and fee standardization of the business formulization process and to introduce authorized agents in each of FED’s six counties for SMEs and agriculture producer groups. The campaign aired jingles in nine dialects on 15 local county radio stations followed by six town hall meetings and the distribution of flyers detailing the formulization process and fees. The first town hall meeting was conducted in Grand Bassa County on November 28, 2012 with the participation of 180 attendees, MoCI representatives, and FED staff. The campaign continued in Bong on December 4 with 120 attendees and in Nimba on December 6 with 130 attendees, Montserrado on December 13 with 252 attendees and Margibi on December 15 with 88 attendees and wrapped up in Lofa on December 18 with 79 attendees. The overall attendees for the campaign were 887 which constituted 92% of the targeted number 960 (100%).
Build Local Human Capacity
FED ended Phase One of the Internship Program which ran from August – November 2012 with 57 interns completing their on the job training at various institutions of work. The purpose of FED’s internship program is to create the opportunity for senior students, graduating seniors, and recent graduates with interest in the agriculture and business sectors to translate their classroom learning into field practice. Students also have the opportunity to gain hands-on practical knowledge and experience as well as the required technical skills for the labor market. In addition, the program hopes to sustain employment and self-employment opportunities through mentorship and specific training, combined with the training at various enterprises and non-governmental institutions.
In Phase One, 57 interns, consisting of 38 agriculture and 19 business students were placed with 20 institutions in the private sector. Of the twenty institutions that provided opportunities for the internship, 13 are local businesses, 6 farming enterprises, and 1 an International Partner, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
On November 27, 2012 the Closing ceremony for the FED Internship program was celebrated. In attendance were the 57 internship students, the FED Chief of Party, Jonathan Greenham, Dr. Walter Wiles of the University of Liberia, Morris Gray of Booker Washington Institute, the president of the United Methodist University, and the Internship partner from EHELD, James Mulbah. Interns were competitively selected from students attending the University of Liberia, the United Methodist University, Booker Washington Institute and the Nimba County Community College. Dr. Kimmie Weeks, Executive Director of Youth Action International (YAI) gave a motivational speech highlighting his youthful experiences leading to his success with his current organization, YAI.
The review of the Environmental Mitigation and Monitoring Plan (EMMP) is near completion and selected site visits were held at FED’s PUA unit in Yanquellie and FED’s MoA demonstration site in Margibi County. The goal of these field visits 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.
The PMP and Workplan have been under intensive review and discussion during this Quarter, with the input of USAID, including Surendra Bhatta, Ken Hasson, Timothy Ntanda and Laura Arneson.