The Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program for Liberia is a USAID-funded initiative that began in September 2011. FED is helping the government of Liberia achieve 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 and actively incorporates women and youth.
This incentive structure is being built upon:
- Improved technologies for productivity and profitability;
- Expanded and modernized input supply and extension systems;
- Commercial production, marketing, and processing;
- Enterprise Services; and
- Workforce and Human Capacity Development.
FED’s activities work with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the private sector to link communities to extension services, agricultural inputs, improved technologies, processing services, market information, transportation, credit, and appropriate education, training, and business development services.
Over the life of the five-year FED program, expanded market linkages will lead to substantial income and job growth and 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 part of expanding development corridors that aim to foster intra- and inter-county commerce, and improve 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 the modern technologies which will boost agricultural productivity.
FED is implemented by Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), supported by subcontracts with the Cadmus Group, International Fertilizer Development Center, Louisiana State University and Winrock International.
In November 2012, FED workedwith four seedling producer training in its peri-urban agriculture (PUA)in Margibi and Montserrado counties. They trained 17 vegetable seedling producers who are currently selling seedlings to vegetable growers in Margibi and Montserrado counties. The PUA team will continue training new seedling producers throughout FY-2013. It has been suggested that some seedling producers could provide both seedlings and inputs recommended for vegetable production.
The first training session took place at BWI campus, Kakata City, in collaboration with the PUA team. Four vegetable seedling producer trainers and five seedling producers who are trying to scale-up production were involved. The training covered how to run small seedling production units, with a special focus on strengthening marketing.
An innovative technology for removing the husk from paddy rice has been produced in a private metal workshop in Monrovia with the support of FED consultant, Mory Thiaw. This 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. Dehuller testing has exhibited a high dehulling rate (i.e., percentage of dehulled grains to total grains entering the dehuller) from parboiled rice of 95 percent.
Rice harvesting is ongoing in the four counties while the FED enumerators were doing the yield estimate across the counties. To address the post-harvest problem faced by rice farmers, FED demonstrated rice parboiling and the impact rice dehuller in Neegbien, Nimba County. During the parboiling exercise, farmers were taught the basic procedures for parboiling.
Maintenance work including weeding and soy flour application were carried out at the demonstration sites during the period under review. There were also insects and pest attacks at some of the sites in Nimba, Grand Bassa, and Lofa counties. Grasshopper has been the main insect attacking the young cassava leaves.
In early November, 40 new groups were identified in Montserrado, Margibi, Bong, Nimba and Lofa counties for the 2013 PUA production. Upon the identification of the groups, MOU’s were signed with the groups to ascertain each party’s contribution to the production of vegetables. To date, 17 new groups have signed up MOUs with FED for Peri – Urban Agricultural production and soil samples were collected from 22 sites in Margibi and Montserrado counties for analysis at Boimah’s engineering soil science lab.
FED is working closely with the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture in Kakata, Margibi county to address the problem of soil erosion in the country. It is a serious problem in Liberia because of the high rainfall which causes cultivated soils to be lost to erosion thus reducing long term crop productivity.
A two- day Business Plan Mentorship workshop was held in the conference room of the Food and Enterprise Development (FED) project from November 27 – 28, bringing together 10 Liberian SMEs for the development of their business plans. The workshop was the final follow-up of the Six-Week Business Plan Mentorship program.
As part of the New Generational Women project, AEDE conducted a base line survey with 99 households in the Cooper Town community. The base line information will be used to measure the impact of a year-long cassava and vegetable project that FED is supporting in collaboration with Chevron. The baseline report will be finished by mid-December.
FED, in collaboration with MoCI, is conducting 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 will air radio jingles in 9 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 will continue in Bong and Margibi counties the week of December 3, in Lofa and Nimba counties the week of December 10, and will wrap up in Montserrado on December 13.
MoCI, in collaboration with the Liberian Better Business Forum (LBBF), will host a three-day conference and trade fair to support 150-200 SMEs in February 2013. The purpose of the conference is to promote activities in the four pillars of the Micros/Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) division of MoCI: Legal and Regulatory Reforms, Access to Markets, Access to Finance, and Building Skills and Knowledge.
On November 27, 2012 the Closing ceremony for the FED Internship program was celebrated. In attendance were 58 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 gave a motivational speech highlighting his experiences leading to his success with his current organization. Certificates were issued, T-shirts given, and a celebratory lunch followed.