Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program for Liberia is a USAID-funded initiative that began in September 2011. Activities are undertaken to target restoring the financial self-sufficiency of farmers (particularly youth and women) through agriculture activities that will increase agricultural productivity and profitability, improve human nutrition, and stimulate private-enterprise growth and investment. Moreover, build local technical and managerial human resources to sustain and expand the accomplishments achieved under objectives one and two.
Its major project areas include: Peri Urban Agriculture, Agricultural Productivity and Profitability and Capacity Building, Business Skills and Management and Small Medium Enterprise Trainings while providing support, creating market linkages and access to loans for local farmers on the agricultural level and building local technical and managerial human resources to sustain and expand the accomplishments achieved under objectives one and two.
FED is implemented by three partners: Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), Winrock International, International Fertilizer Developmental Center (IFDC), and Samaritan’s Purse and Louisiana University who work primarily as a team.
Activities began during this quarter from April to June 2012 in Bong, Nimba Margibi, Grand Bassa, and Lofa counties. Activities in the counties mentioned above for this quarter began with the identification of farmers’ cooperatives and associations in Lofa, Bong, and Nimba. Additionally, a series of two-day business skills training was conducted, including for the Farmer Associations in Gbarnga Bong County, and a Business Management Skills Training for SMEs in the Cassava Value Chain with the National Cassava Sector at the Royal Hotel was also held in Sinkor Monrovia. While a testing of soil water to determine available nutrients in the soil and similar training was provided to two of the rainy season vegetable groups (Mount Barclay and Cocoa factory communities).
The long-term ED Specialist, Mark Nolan, joined the Monrovia FED Team on March 20, 2012. He died unexpectedly of natural causes on April 5, 2012. Upon his arrival, Mark immediately began working with a variety of farmers groups, local cassava producers, and many others. He made many valuable contributions in a short period of time and the whole FED team continues to mourn this tragic loss.
Twenty-four lowland rice producer groups and eight upland rice producer groups have been identified – six of the formers and two of the latter in each of the priority counties. The membership of these groups totals approximately 750 producers. Each of the lowland groups possesses a lowland site that is in need of rehabilitation and has expressed interest in rehabilitating the site and expanding production over time. The expression of what FED and each group has agreed to serve as the foundation of an MOU signed by both parties.
A short-term Technical Assistant, Matthew Curtis, conducted a soil study and analysis in FED’s counties operation and he developed management plans that would maintain soil organic matter content. These include the use of alley cropping, cover crops, and biochar. Swamp rice sites were evaluated for clay type and depth. An assessment was done by STTA, Dr. Steven Lawry, DAI manager for Land Tenure and Property Rights, on how Liberia’s land tenure arrangements might affect adoption by FED partner farmers of new agricultural practices and technologies. Of particular interest was whether farmers had sufficient security of tenure to merit investments that generate benefits over the longer-term.
The Doumpa Agriculture Project is a community project that started in February 2012 with intervention from the Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program for Liberia with funding from USAIDLiberia. Doupma is a town in Wee-Gbehyi-Mahn District, Nimba County, Liberia. Currently, the project has 342 local farmers working on the farm as volunteers willing to learn the new skills and knowledge that have been applied by the FED hire technical team and later return to their farms and transfer the knowledge gained to increase their production and profitability. Transplanting of the lowland rice (2.232 hectares) began on June 8, 2012, and increased to 25 hectares by June 30. A total of 49 plots have been transplanted with L19 out of 56 plots. Puddling and transplanting of remaining plots continue. Special mobilization has been launched to speed up the transplanting, with the goal of transplanting the entire field by July 20, 2012. The entire one hectare field is now planted with seven crops, including cabbage, hot pepper, eggplant, tomato, batter ball, cucumber, and macro cabon, through both direct and indirect planting. The crops are mainly a three-month duration, with harvest expected in September. Maintenance of the entire field is ongoing.
The FED’s IT department successfully set up three field offices in Grand Bassa, Nimba, and Lofa counties, respectively. This included set up of the network printer, cable and wireless router, desktop computers, and other support as required.