The Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development Mission to Liberia (USAID), Dr. Anthony S. Chan, inaugurated a modern Science Laboratory at the Grand Bassa County Community College in Buchanan. Under an agreement with the Food and Enterprise Development Program of USAID (USAID FED), the College provided the building to house the facility, while USAID FED remodeled the building and purchased and installed 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 recently unveiled market driven 2-year vocational agriculture program supported by USAID, which prepares Liberia’s youth for careers in agriculture. The NDA offers core agricultural related courses like crop cultivation, irrigation, soil science and animal husbandry as well as skills in entrepreneurship, leadership and communications.
In addition to the Grand Bassa County Community College, the NDA will be offered attwo other community colleges—the Nimba, and Lofa Community Colleges—plus the Booker Washington Institute (BWI). A Science Lab similar to the one at the Grand Bassa County Community College was recently dedicated at BWI. Similar Labs have also been established and will soon be dedicated at the Nimba County Community College and the Lofa County Community College.
Speaking during the dedication ceremony, USAID Mission Director Chan 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 science labs as well ascomputer labs with internet connectivity. Dr. Chan 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.He added that the United States of America remains committed to helping Liberia unlock the great potential it has in the agricultural sector. The Chief of Party of USAID FED, Agnes Luz, said the Lab was part of USAID FED’s broad plan to help develop Liberia’s agricultural workforce capacity and prepare young people for a future as successful farmers.
Speaking on behalf of the Government of Liberia,the Minister of Agriculture, Dr.Moses Zinnah,thanked the United States Government for helping the Government of Liberia through USAID FED in its drive to stimulate agricultural production. He urged the students to take full advantage of the opportunities provided them by the NDA program. Speaking on behalf of the Grand Bassa County Legislative Caucus, Senator Jonathan Kaipay, said elected representatives of Grand Bassa County are doing everything in their power to cater to the needs of students at the County Community College, including providing a bus to transport the students to and from classes.
Following the dedication ceremony at the Grand Bassa County Community College, students put on a soil testing demonstration for guests using the new state of the art equipment in the Lab. In addition to providing practical training for the students, the Lab will also be used to provide soil testing services for farmers in surrounding communities as well as other institutions for a fee to help sustain the facility.
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 farming by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, the private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.