On September 15, 2015, the Deputy Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development Mission to Liberia, Barbara Dickerson, inaugurated a modern Soil Science Laboratory at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Margibi County worth approximatelyUS$200,000.
Under an agreement between BWI and USAID FED, BWI provided the building to house the facility, while USAID FED supported the renovation of the building, as well as the purchase and installation of state of the art laboratory equipment. The Laboratorywill aid the delivery of the National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) and enhance practical learning. The NDA program is Liberia’s market driven 2-year vocational agriculture program which prepares Liberia’s youth for careers in agriculture. The NDA offers core courses like crop cultivation, irrigation, soil science and animal husbandry and essential knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship, leadership and communications.
In addition to BWI, the NDA will be offered at three community colleges—the Nimba, Bassa and Lofa Community Colleges. Soil Science Labs similar to the BWI Lab have also been established at each of the three community colleges.
Speaking during the dedication ceremony, the USAID Deputy Mission Director, Dickerson, said the US Government, through USAID FED, is making major investments in building the capacity of BWI and the three community colleges throughthe creation of Centers of Excellence (CoE’s) at each institutionequipped with the soils science labs as well ascomputer labs with internet connectivity. Ms. Dickerson further said the CoE’s will also provide for the training of instructors and the development of syllabi and lesson plans used in the NDA. She added that the United States of America is committed to working with the Ministries of Education and of Youth and Sports and the Government of Liberia as a whole towards achieving the objectives of the GOL’s technical vocational education and training programs for Liberian youth in support of Liberia’s Agenda for Transformation.
Speaking on behalf of the Government of Liberia, Assistant Minister for Technical and Vocational Education at the Ministry of Education (TVET), Mr. Sekou Dukuly, thanked USAID through its Food and Enterprise Development Program for helping the Government of Liberia achieve yet another milestone in itsquest to provide a sound agriculture training program for young people in the country. He said as the Ministry strives to improve the educational system, programs such as the National Diploma in Agriculture will be critical to helping the Ministry achieve its goal of providing first rate vocational and technical training programs for Liberian youths.
The USAID FED Program aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians through increased agricultural productivity and profitability in rice, cassava, vegetable and goat value chains. It is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado. It is Africa’s largest project under President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence and increasing food security by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, the private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.