The FED project is running at full capacity as the May 1 through 15 activities demonstrate. Component One: Increased Agriculture Productivity is committed to keeping pace with the current crop cycle. The input supply activity is designing a demonstration program to promote new technologies for improving lowland rice production through UDP fertilizer applications and ISFM. The preparation of a pilot voucher program for agricultural inputs is also in progress for Bong and Nimba Counties.
For the value chains a number of site assessments for the planting of rice took place during this period. The challenges identified during the assessments included the need for rehabilitation of water control and management structures, heavy de-stumping and food for the workers at the sites. The ToT on sustainable cassava production best practices was conducted for 65 participants from NGO staffs, lead farmers, EOs from Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa and Nimba Counties as well as representatives from CARI. An 8,000 mini-stem cutting germ plasma bank for cassava was established at the FED office in Bong County and Farmers’ field in Nimba County.
Twenty sites in Margibi and Montserrado counties are expanding their vegetables production base while maintaining current production and harvesting of vegetables. The PUA and communication teams visited project sites at Sackie Bomah Farmers Association and Yarnguelleh to video tape agriculture best practices where field layout and harvesting of peppers were recorded. Two plots (10 X 10 m2) of chili peppers yielded 75 Kgs of peppers that were taken to the market.
Six of 13 lead goat farmer shelters and fenced sites have been completed in Nimba. These six sites will provide good examples for the completion of the remaining shelters to follow in the next two to three weeks. In Bong, one shelter is completed with a second shelter about to start. Construction materials for all lead goat farmer production sites have been delivered for beginning construction of the remaining shelters. Plans are under way for Lofa and Grand Bassa shelter construction.
The development of a National Livestock Policy was the subject of a regional ECOWAS stakeholders meeting on May 6-8 by the African Union/Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources, titled Veterinary-Governance (VET-GOV). Dr. McCarthy and Dr. Agyenmang representing FED participated in the conference. The recently completed first DRAFT of the Liberian National Livestock Policy with the support of FED was part of the discussion and will be the first action of the VET-GOV multi-stakeholder review for Liberia.
Component Two Enterprise Development (ED) team worked with Component One to jump start the Pilot voucher program in Bong and Nimba Counties. A backward mapping exercise was initiated in Monrovia to identify large buyers of product from the FED value chains to include location and preference in terms of quality, quantity and purchase frequency. The IQC/RFP0006 bid for rural BSP’s was opened and evaluation of the 26 submitted proposals commenced. A Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) RFP for TOT for FED staff was published and a bidder’s conference held.
Two MOUs were drafted and await approval for the capacity building of Nimba County Community College (NCCC) and Grand Bassa Community College (GBCC) for Component Three. The second allotment of textbooks (two hundred and eighty) procured through Longman Publishers arrived on May 1. These books are meant for the Centers of Excellence’s libraries which will enhance the resources to pilot the new National Diploma in Agriculture, an ECOWAS-TVET post-secondary curriculum for Liberia Community Colleges.
Intense preparation took place for the capacity building workshop for the group of interns assigned to Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties. The workshop started on May 15 and ends May 18 where 111 interns will meet in two groups over the period of four days.
The Monitoring and Evaluation rice farmer survey field work was completed. Survey sample size was 2.3% of about 8,200 farmers. Vegetable demonstration and vegetable seedling surveys continue.
FED is in talks with UNICEF regarding their National Youth Service Program which supports recent college graduates, offering them the chance to volunteer their time and work in four sectors of the Liberian economy. The agricultural sector has been the one sector UNICEF has been struggling to establish. FED hopes to have a partnership in place by the end of the 3rd quarter FY 2013. UNICEF would provide all of the funding for the volunteers while FED would provide training and stewardship. This activity would allow both UNICEF and FED to reach a larger population of young farmers in Liberia.