Rural Liberia: The Value of Agriculture in Economic Development
Video of Liberty Party’s Plans for agriculture
Agriculture forms a major portion of all economies. It is the gateway to every Country development. The need to improve agriculture production in Liberia is very significant. Notwithstanding, agriculture production in Liberia is very low owing to so many challenges faced by farmers.
Among these major challenges are lack of social protection and new technologies for farmers such as improved seeds and agricultural practices, Insurance, access to credit, access to land, tenure for women and access to transportation, which has the potential to improve their lives through higher yields, better prices, lower risk, and improved nutrition.
Despite the challenges, agriculture remains the backbone of the Liberian economy. It accounts for one half of GDP in the post-war period and more than two-thirds of Liberians depend on agriculture for their livelihood (Feed The Future, 2011).
Investing in agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, high-yield seeds, and farm equipment is low among smallholder farmers in Liberia. One potential reason these inputs may not be extensively accessible in local markets in Liberia (and farmers may not have the cash on hand to purchase them just prior to planting season) is because farmers may lack information on the benefits of these inputs and how to use them; also they may not have the finance to purchase (Karlan, 2015).
Similarly, Liberian women are key players in the agriculture sector, they consist of over half of the agriculture labor force and two-thirds of the trade and commerce labor force. Their role in agriculture is very important, particularly in food crops, where they are reported to produce over half of the output; their production of cash crops is limited. Access to resources and markets is significantly constrained-across the population-but women, due to their multiple economic and domestic roles, are particularly affected. Policies and programs designed to revitalize the rural economy, including its agricultural production, processing and marketing, should consider the role of women (World Bank Gender and Development Group (PRMGE), 2010)
There are many potential solutions to these problems. Like other risky enterprises, farmers may invest more if they have access to insurance that protects them from terrible losses as well. Finally, for farmers to function well in Liberia the need to push for social protection for farmers is very important.
- Incorporate clear-cut and well developed national policies purposely designed to encourage women and youths to study in the agricultural field. College of agriculture should reorient its entire curriculum; also include agriculture into the senior high school curriculum.
- Consider the role of women as producers and market participants – their participation and representation. Improve access to land tenure – promote information on women rights to own land.
- Government should encourage farmers by promoting Liberian agriculture products on the international market; as well as obtaining tariffs and tax waivers from international partners on certain agricultural products for a period of time.
- Improve access to finance – promote savings and credit clubs among farmers.
- Rural road rehabilitation – to help cooperatives and farmers access to markets which is necessary in sustaining commercial farming
- Use the “button to up policy”- divide the country into the four agriculture regions and meet with farmers annually in each of those region and give them the opportunity to have a say- farmers are capable of planning their own programs and implementing it.
- Local cooperatives, hands on training and development for farmers so they can transition from subsistence farming to commercial farming
- Provide more scholarships to encourage students: The government of Liberia should promote agriculture as a noble profession that is respected and admired.
- Create school projects to encourage young people into the agriculture field.
Establish a Student/ faculty farmers or gardeners’ program centers. Focusing on three principles: Sustainable agriculture principles and practices, emphasis on in-field, experiential learning and the encouragement of student initiative, creativity and exploration in the agriculture field.
The need to improve agriculture is greater today than it has ever been, due to the daily increase in the world’s population. Agriculture affects all of us, directly and indirectly, understanding where our food comes from is the first step to understanding how the agricultural systems work; and what is needed to maintain a sovereign and a sustainable nation.
The agriculture sector contributes greatly to food security and poverty reduction. Nevertheless, agriculture cannot meet its potential for growth if it does not increase in productivity and if the opportunities along value chains are not explored.
The Student Farmer/Gardeners’ program will offers a wide range of opportunities for students to learn about and explore the many aspects of sustainable agriculture. These opportunities include internships, formal courses and research projects. Those Students who show extreme interest are provided assistance up to and through college once the student’s interest remains in the agriculture field.