Top: Some of the seeds are on display at the fair. Photo credit: Community Empowerment for Change (CEC)
By John Dennis Weah, Jr.
COMPOUND NUMBER THREE, Grand Bassa County – Scores of farmers across Wee Statutory District in Grand Bassa County have displayed hundreds of seeds and their knowledge to preserve them at an agricultural fair organized by NGOs to raise awareness about local food production.
The farmers demonstrated new methods they use to preserve seeds, where they sunbake, instead of smoldering them. Some of the preserved seeds they displayed at the fair were cucumbers, peppers, garden eggs, eggplants and corns. Others were okra, water greens, groundnuts, tomatoes, pumpkins and watermelons.
The event was held at the administrative headquarters in Wayzohn City, Compound Number Three last week under the theme: “Promoting Local Seeds Preservation for Sustainable Agro Economy.” It was supported by Concern Worldwide Liberia and the European Union.
“The lack of quality productive seeds in rural communities across Liberia undermines the production of food and denies rural dwellers, especially children and mothers, the needed nutrition support to survive,” said Blojay Doe, the program officer of Community Empowerment for Change (CEC), one of two local NGOs that organized the event.
“The district seed fair sought to raise awareness on the need for local seeds preservation approach and showcase local interventions by some community members engaged in seed preservation,” Doe added.
Liberia has the weather and soil to grow different kinds of vegetable crops on a large scale for the local market. But farmers have been plagued by a number of challenges for generations, including access to seeds, tools and skillsets.
The farmers have asked for more support.
“We are benefiting a lot to get more seeds in our storage to plant during the next season nowadays, and it has helped us to even put some on the market to sell for others in need of planting,” said Alfred Joe, one of the farmers.
Lealia Andrews, the deputy minister for technical services of the Ministry of Agriculture, said that she took note of the farmers’ requests and would act on them.
“You talked a lot about Concern Worldwide Liberia giving you more practical training that you have shown here to us that I am happy about,” Andrews said, adding that the ministry would support them through training, projects, seedings and fertilizers.
“Next time I want it to be practical by going on the people’s farms stepping on the soil to see how they do it and see how we support them. So, I forward to the next agriculture fair to be held on the farm itself and not in the building. I am going to wear my Wellington boots to be on the ground myself.”
“We are really impressed with what the farmers displayed here, especially women about seeds preservation in the community,” said Saidu Mansaray of Concern Worldwide. “This will encourage us to give you more of our support in the process.”