In the wake of the Liberian government's call for self-sufficiency in food production, the United Methodist Church there has launched three agricultural projects in Nimba, Bassa and Montserrado counties.
The yearlong projects include poultry development, agro-forestry and livestock restocking, and local vegetable- and rice-seed multiplication and preservation. They are jointly financed by the church's Liberia Annual Conference and United Methodist Board of Global Ministries at a cost of $60,000. The projects will benefit 30 villages and almost 2,000 farmers, according to Edward Kla Brewer, director of the conference's agriculture department.
The Poultry Development Project, based in Nimba County and involving about 400 people, will introduce crossbred chickens into the Liberia Poultry Market. "These crossbred chickens will be as nutritional as the American fowls and can survive better in tropical regions," Brewer said.
Studies by his department have revealed a shortage of local vegetables and rice seeds in the country as a result of Liberia's recent war. To remedy that shortage, the Grand Bassa County-based Local Vegetable and Rice Seed Multiplication and Preservation Project will teach farmers and others how to multiply and preserve seeds. Ten people will serve as trainers for the farmers, Brewer said.
"Right now, rice, pepper, and other vegetable seeds are very hard to find in the Bassa area," he explained. Livestock also has decreased, especially in the Montserrado area. Before the war, rabbits, ducks, goats, and other animals were common in the surrounding communities.
Brewer noted that commercial activities, such as charcoal and firewood production, have led farmers to destroy other tree species, which will cause ecological problems in the future. The Agro Forestry/Livestock Restocking Project will engage more than 700 farmers in planting fruit trees. Some 10,000 trees will be planted in the Montserrado County-based project. The church is also planning livestock-raising activities.
By Edwin J. Clarke Jr.