Liberia: CHAP Promotes Urban, Peri-urban Agriculture


— Launches 12.5 hectare rice harvest

It was amazing for many to know that rice grows very well in an urban community like the Zubah Town urban agricultural project, which is situated in Du-port Road, Paynesville.

Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in collaboration with the Community Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP), launched the rice harvest of the community to ensure the availability of locally produced rice on the market.

The program was attended by an array of agricultural stakeholders.

The project, which now covers more than 12 hectares of lowland, was established in 2008 with the intent to create jobs for women and youth and to improve food and nutrition security for urban households.

Urban and peri-urban agriculture involves the cultivation of crops and raising animals in the cities. It was introduced in Liberia 2003 to create employment and promote food and nutrition security.

After the civil war in the country, this type of agricultural practice grew more attention under the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But, lately there has been very little attention for urban and peri-urban programs by the government.

Launching the harvest, the Deputy Minister for Regional Development Research and Extension at the Ministry of Agriculture, Moses Gbanyan said that urban and peri agriculture must be practiced by Liberians.

He said that the Ministry of Agriculture is willing to work with CHAP to produce food in Montserrado County.

“Once CHAP can assure us of providing food for Montserrado, we are ready to provide all of the support needed,” he said.

Minister Gbanyan said that his ministry Intends to support farmers in the country to produce more food for the market.

According to him, under the administration of the new minister, Dr. Alexander Nuetah, farmers will be supported to increase production.

“We are going to make sure to provide the farmers with equipment to increase the production of food in order to supply the market,” he said.

Deputy Minister Gbanyan said that CHAP will be supported by the Ministry to provide extension services to the farmers.

Speaking earlier, the Executive Director of CHAP, Bishop Robert Bimba said that since the CHAP program was introduced, it is achieving the goal of promoting urban and peri-urban agriculture in Liberia.

According to him, the project has created employment for several residents within the community.

“This project has attracted employment for many. When the war came to an end many people were migrating to Monrovia and some of them today have used the project to raise income to support their families,” he said.

Bimba explained that Zubah Town rice project intends to employ more people once increased support is provided.

He also said that currently the project is using the system of rice intensification to increase the yield of rice.

“We are using the technology that allows us to plant less seedlings to get more. This technology is expected to achieve 6-8 metric tons per cropping season,” he said.

He however mentioned that there is a need for Liberians to develop the taste preference for locally produced rice.

“We must do all we can to reduce rice imports. When we import, it means that we are importing poverty in the country because importing makes more money to leave a country,” Bimba explained.

Bimba said the goal of the rice project is to ensure the availability of local rice for communities within Paynesville and its environs.

“The rice, when harvested, will be sold right here in Paynesville at a price affordable for the residents,” he explained.

“Several women come here every day for daily hire jobs. We also allow them to own plots during the dry season to grow fresh and healthy vegetables for the market,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the CHAP Executive Director has called on the Ministry of Agriculture and its partners to prioritize the consumption of locally produced rice for all workshops and seminars.

He said priority for the consumption of locally produced rice will create market opportunity for smallholder farmers.

Bimba further mentioned that the CHAP program is expected to benefit from the Ministry of Agriculture grant.

According to him the grant, when provided, will improve the operation of his organization to serve the community.

“We are going to upgrade processing and purchase a truck to transport paddy rice, as well as procure a power tiller and tractor,” he disclosed.

For his part, the lawmaker for Montserrado County District #4, Michel Thomas, lauded CHAP for the initiative.

He promised his commitment to work with CHAP in making sure that residents of his district are encouraged for agricultural activities.

According to him, as part of his agenda for the citizens of his district, he will be encouraging his people’s involvement in urban farming.

“We can also use the swamps in the various communities of our county to grow more food. I will be encouraging the citizens of the county to venture some form of agriculture activities,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Representative Thomas has promised to lobby with his colleagues to increase the budget for agriculture.

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