The Head of the Delegation of the European Union, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, has reaffirmed the EU's commitment to helping Liberia increase its food and nutrition security and helping the Liberia increase its agriculture export to other countries.
Ambassador Delahousse was speaking at a Smallholder Farmers and Fishers Forum organised as part of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Campaign. The forum, held under the theme "Moving beyond subsistence farming and fishing," brought together beneficiary farmers and fisher folks from projects funded by the EU Delegation.
The Ambassador explained that smallholder farmers and fishers were being highlighted because they are still the primary labour force in the food-related sectors in Liberia. He added, "EU values inclusiveness of those groups in society who may not have the financial neither the political clout, but who nevertheless can make a difference in transforming a nation."
The EU's interventions focus on increasing productivity sustainably, improving nutrition, adding value to selected products beyond the farm gate, supporting the development of commercially and financially viable enterprises. In addition, the Delegation supports the strengthening and the organisation of value chain actors as well as increasing the integration of smallholder agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries value chain participants with domestic and international markets.
The Minister of Agriculture, Madam Jeanine Cooper, emphasized that the governmnet is working with partners to move agriculture beyond subsistence farming and fishing. She said, "we are working to ensure an increase in the production of various good crops to feed the nation and build our resilience."
Speaking on behalf of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority, the Director of Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries, Mr. Zizi Kpadeh, noted fish production in Liberia is inadequate. However, he indicated that the Authority supports several projects aimed at increasing the production of fish in Liberia.
The participating smallholder farmers and fisherfolks took turns sharing their personal experiences. They spoke about how EU-funded training programmes have increased their yields and incomes, enhanced their families' nutrition, and created markets for their produce.
Nancy Gboyah, a fish farmer from Zoweinta in Bong County, expressed her delight at the results of adopting in her fish pond good agricultural practices introduced fish labor project (Enhancing smallholder fish farming through agro-ecological intensification and integration into inclusive commercial value chain in Liberia project). She said, "last year, I was able to sell my fish harvest for 17,000 Liberian Dollars (US$100). This is my biggest onetime sale, and it gives me hope."
Agnes Konah, a Cocoa farmer from Saclapea in Nimba County, received training in best cocoa growing practices and improved seedlings from the Liberia Cocoa Sector Improvement Programme (LICSIP) to start her two-acre cocoa farm. She is already harvesting and selling other food crops interplanted on her young farm.
Emmanuel Appleton, a fisherman from Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount, uses the "Collect App" introduced by the Communities for Fisheries project to monitor and report illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing when he is out fishing. He felt empowered to safeguard his livelihood and the future of his coastal community. He said, "I can take photographs of trawlers doing illegal fishing and send the report to the authorities. Now I have evidence to support whatever I encounter at sea."