The USAID 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
USAID 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, agrobusiness education, training, and enterprise services.
In five years, USAID 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. USAID 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.
USAID FED’s methodology is market-led and value chain-driven; it is committed to developing indigenous capacity building, with a specific focus on Liberia’s women and youth.
USAID 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.
USAID FED is implemented by five partners: Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), Winrock International, International Fertilizer Developmental Center (IFDC), Louisiana State University (LSU), and The Cadmus Group.
A significant highlight during this reporting period was the increased collaboration between Fabrar Liberia, Inc. and USAID FED to support a major FY14 work plan initiative, the development of an industrial rice mill that aims to initially process approximately 5,300 metric tons of grain rice in its first year of operation (June 2014-May 2015). USAID FED has issued the purchase order for the milling equipment, which will be the first industrial rice mill in Liberia and is expected to be delivered in June 2014. The renovation of Fabrar’s warehouse is on track and is expected to be completed in Q3 of FY14. This warehouse will increase Fabrar’s capacity to store milled rice by 1000 MT with proper ventilation and protection from pests, molds, fungus and mildews thereby preventing quality deterioration.
USAID FED initiated the first market linkages meeting between Fabrar Liberia, Inc. and over 30 farmers from Fuamah Multipurpose Cooperative Society in Bong Mines. Topics discussed included a consistent year round market for farmers, collection at the farm gate by Fabrar, cash payments for rice upon purchase, forward purchasing opportunities, and the availability of locally processed rice which farmers can purchase at lower prices. As a result, Fabrar has proposed $19 USD for 50kg of paddy. The farmers requested time to discuss this development. USAID FED expects to hear back from the farmers during the first week of April.
During this reporting period, USAID FED conducted two trader support activities with Lead Farmers and Traders from Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Bassa counties. The activity facilitated the establishment of market linkages between PUA clusters and identified markets for the sales of high value vegetables. During the events, Lead Farmers negotiated with the Liberian catering firm ROSNA on quality, quantity, prices, procedures, schedules and the consistency expected for a contractual agreement. At the end of the event, both sides agreed to enter into a purchasing contract to formalize the partnership.
USAID FED completed the construction of the goat quarantine facility located at the Center of Agriculture Research Institute (CARI). The facility has the capacity to shelter 500 animals. USDA partner Land O’Lakes (LOL) has planned the first shipment of goats to arrive in May. USAID FED plans to inaugurate the facility in April with the U.S. Ambassador.
Throughout Q2, USAID FED, and STTAs Dr. Bradley Leger and Cristina Caltagirone, participated in numerous meetings with the MoE’s Director of Technical Vocational Education and Training, Saku Dukuly, to provide technical assistance to help move forward the process of approving the National Diploma for Agriculture (NDA) curriculum. In March, USAID FED sponsored a one-day NDA curriculum review workshop to revise the NDA structure. Workshop participants analyzed the courses and the division between practical activities and theoretical content. In addition, faculty from the NCCC presented the results from the six courses they piloted during the first semester of 2013-14. A milestone in this reporting period was achieved with the acceptance of the MoE of 30 courses to be rolled out in two Academic Years (AY). Seven courses will be rolled out in the first semester AY 14-15, to start in September.
The project procured and started the distribution and installation of 360 drip irrigation kits that are expected to improve efficiency of water utilization, especially during the dry season contributing to better yields. The drip irrigation kits were purchased from local input supplier Gro-Green, and will be installed on all of USAID FED supported vegetable farms for FY14.
USAID FED, in collaboration with CARI and the Pan-African rice research organization Africa Rice, kicked off a 10-day certification training for 31 people (24 male, 7 female) on quality seed assurance at CARI facilities in Bong County. The new seed inspectors learned land preparation, fertilization and application, seed processing and seed germination techniques. They are expected to apply these skills when working with local rice farmers in processing seed in Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa counties. USAID FED is in the process of working on the administrative aspects of this arrangement.
During the period, USAID FED and Advancing Youth Project (AYP) assigned 28 National Agriculture Volunteers to mentor 148 AYP agriculture youth clubs at 148 schools in Bong, Margibi, Nimba, Lofa and Montserrado counties. AYP’s youth clubs consist of adult learners who have gone back to school. Gardeners at the 148 selected sites have completed clearing land, de-stumping, nursery preparation, and field layout for cassava and vegetable production.
USAID FED initiated the PUA dry season voucher activity during the quarter. The program linked input supply companies to district level agro dealers who deliver the voucher redemption phase of the program. The program includes training agro dealers on product knowledge, as well as better ways of doing business. The sale of inputs provides the agro dealers incentives to meet farmers in their villages, which then gives both parties the opportunity to be introduced, allowing for a continuing business relationship thereafter.
FED reported in its February monthly report on page 9, “In Lofa county, the 36 FY13 farmer group demonstration plots have finished harvesting a total of 44 MT of rice from approximately 46.5 ha of land.” The correct report is, “In Lofa county, the 36 FY13 farmer group demonstration plots have harvested rice from approximately 46.5 ha of land. Of the total harvest, 44MT have already been threshed, dried and bagged; an unknown quantity still needs to be threshed.”