On July 16, 2015 in Suakoko, Bong County, the USAID Food and Enterprise Development Program (USAID FED) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) distributed 30 power tillers worth USD $189,000 to Liberian youth entrepreneurs under a cost share arrangement.
Youth entrepreneurs in Lofa received 9 power tillers, while those in Nimba and Bong County each received 10 power tillers, and a youth entrepreneur in Grand Bassa received1 power tiller. A power tiller is used for plowing the soil before planting. The youth will operate the power tillers in cultivating at least 1,440 hectares of farm land this year in USAID FED’s core counties of Lofa, Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa, at reasonable fees. USAID FED will provide training on business management and also help these youth enterprises access loans for the improvement of their power tiller businesses.
This initiative aims at creating employment opportunities for youth in Liberia’s agriculture sector and to promote sustainable provision of mechanized services for lowland rice farming. USAID FED is assisting more than 28,000 farmers in 2015 to grow rice on 5,340 hectares of lowlands in Bong, Nimba, Lofa and Grand Bassa utilizing improved production technologies and practices.
A labor market assessment conducted in 2012 by the USAID Advancing Youth Project (AYP) stated that the informal economy in Liberia is a significant source for employment opportunities for young people. Additionally, lowland rice farmers in Liberia have limited access or no access to mechanized services. As such activities such as de-stumping and land preparation have to be done through manual labor which increases production cost.
“The United States government is committed to supporting Liberia’s agriculture through the USAID FED program to improve farmers’ productivities and enhance food security. Within the next few years, the program will continue to work with interested Liberian youths in the agriculture sector to ensure self-employment”, said Barbara Dickerson, Deputy USAID Mission Director.
“The initiative is meant to empower the youth in Liberia’s agriculture sector and to ensure that Liberian farmers get access to mechanized services to allow them to expand lowland rice production. The youth groups are expected to cultivate at least one hectare of land per day”, said Agnes Luz, Chief of Party of USAID FED.
Honorable Fofi Baimba, Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, House of Representatives said, “The Liberian government is highly grateful to the Government and people of America for the initiative to empower the youths and increase the productivities of small holders farmers through mechanization.”
The USAID FED Program for Liberia 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.
The United States – as the largest donor and closest ally – is supporting the Liberian priorities to build sustainable local capacity, make a difference in people’s lives, and move towards a shared vision of self-sufficiency and prosperity. For more information please visit. www.usaid.gov. USAID FED 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.