The Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program for Liberia is a USAID-funded development program that was launched in September 2011. USAID FED uses an all-inclusive strategy incorporating MSME farmers, processors, suppliers, women and youth while partnering with the government of Liberia and local civil societies to achieve food security.
The goal of USAID FED is to increase food availability, utilization, and accessibility by building an indigenous incentive structure that assists agricultural stakeholders in adopting 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
- Workforce development
FED works with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), civil societies and the private sector in providing communities access to agricultural inputs (including improved seeds), extension services, nutritious food products, processing services, market information, transportation, credit, agro-business education, training, and enterprise services.
In five years, FED’s thrust to expand market linkages is expected to lead to substantial increases in income and job opportunities. FED aims to significantly boost the production, processing, marketing and nutritional utilization of rice, cassava and vegetables, and to enhance the productivity of goat farming in the counties covered by the program.
These initiatives are being carried out in the counties of Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, and Margibi. FED focused on these counties because they are situated along regional development corridors that are crucial in promoting intra and inter-county commerce. These growth corridors are expected to improve food availability and access for all Liberians.
FED’s methodology is market-led and value chain-driven; it is committed to develop indigenous capacity building, with specific focus on Liberia’s women and youth.
FED’s approach is collaborative and catalytic. It is driven by the goals and objectives of our partner clients. It aims to increase incomes of rural households and create new employment and livelihood opportunities for Liberians; to improve access to food and household dietary diversity scores of food-insecure Liberians; and to promote the use of improved inputs, better farming practices, and technologies that boost agricultural productivity.
FED is implemented by five partners, namely: Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), Winrock International, International Fertilizer Developmental Center (IFDC), Louisiana State University (LSU), and The Cadmus Group.
FED continues to select rice farmer groups in Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa and Bong counties. By the end of the reporting period, FED registered 19,071 lowland and upland rice farmers to be assisted during the FY14 rice planting season. These farmers expect to plant over 5,715 hectares of lowland and upland rice.
To stimulate enterprise growth in the rice value chain, FED advanced construction of six rice processing facilities in Bong and Nimba counties. The rice processing centers are located in FED’s rice business hubs, which are areas with large numbers of rice farmers who can benefit from a rice mill as well as from mechanized services to be offered in these hubs.
FED began cluster mapping exercises in Bong, Grand Bassa, Nimba and Lofa counties and to date, FED has recruited a total of 8,493 of the targeted 12,000 cassava farmers for assistance in FY14. In addition, FED completed verification of all 84 goat farmer groups for FED assistance in FY14 under the goat value chain.
FED carried out meetings with 20 vegetable farming clusters in four counties to explain the cost sharing strategy for motorized water pumps and to help the cluster design a more effective approach for its use. FED will pay 50 percent of the cost of the pumps. As a result of the campaign, 7 clusters invested a total of 97,750 Liberian Dollars in order to pay their portion of the price of the water pumps. FED also presented the groups with information on sun solar dryers for which FED will also cost share with the cluster.
FED has signed a MoU with the University of Arkansas’ Department of Agriculture to assist two Liberian candidates for graduate studies in Plant Pathology focusing on rice and horticultural crops. The students have to fulfill the qualifications required by the University in order to be awarded the assistantships. The Master of Science is a two-year degree program. Following a one year course work, the students will return to Liberia to carry out research for up to 12 months. Research topics will be jointly identified by FED, the student and her/his thesis advisor. Finally, students will defend their theses and complete coursework in order to receive their degrees. The students will be mandated to come back to Liberia to provide technical services to help build the agriculture sector.