HARPER, Maryland – After installing a large capacity rice processing equipment to promote local production of rice and reduce food insecurity in Maryland, the Ministry of Agriculture through its Small Holder Productivity Enhancement Commercialization Program or SAPEC has presented two power tillers to two farming cooperatives in the county. The groups are Toukpeh Farming Cooperative and Barriken Agriculture Community Association.
Members of the two groups were seen in joyous mood upon the presentation of the power tiller machines during the weekend.
The Head of Toukpeh Cooperative in Harper, George Grespy praised the Agriculture Ministry through the SAPEC initiative for the power tillers, noting that their work was now made easier. Grespy said manually doing the work of a power tiller was complicated and more time-consuming.
“We have been praying [for us] to get a machine that will reduce the labor we use to grow rice. The coming of this machine will also make us do large farming,” he said. He called on other Marylanders to join them in prioritizing farming, especially the production of the country’s staple food, rice. He said the cooperative was founded since 1969 and has since been active in the growing of rice and vegetables.
The head of Barriken Agriculture Community Association, Alex Newton also hailed the Ministry for the equipment, saying the effort is a sign that the government was now ready to decentralize and prioritize agriculture by empowering local farmers.
He promised that the equipment would be used for its intended purpose. He also challenged other farmers in the county to join them make Liberia self-sufficient in food production.
For his part, an experienced farmer and power tiller operator in Maryland, Daniel Chea promised to volunteer his expertise to train members of the cooperatives on how to operate and maintain the equipment.
“All machines brought here for agriculture purposes were under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture and this is the first time I can remember for local farmers to take ownership of a power tiller,” he also disclosed. He wants the local farmers to see the operation and maintenance of the equipment as a farming requirement to reduce labor and increase production.
He appealed for the Agriculture Ministry’s continual engagement and challenged local community leaders to take the lead in encouraging their people to focus on agriculture.
Meanwhile, SAPEC Maryland Focus person, Alfred Koiboi said the presentation of the power tiller equipment was part of the sustainable crops production intensification component of the program. The component’s goal he said is to increase crops yield and produce through the promotion of adaptation of improving technology, integrated soil crops, water management, and production modernization.
He encouraged users to see the equipment as an opportunity to improve their farming production and increase production.
“If you put or use this machine for its intended purpose, you will improve your agriculture works, grow more of whatever crop you are growing here in the county,” he said.
“We need to take agriculture serious to be food sufficient. Let’s desist from depending on our neighbor, Ivory Coast for crops we can grow, and we have good soil for,” he challenged the farmers.
According to him, the machines can be used for multiple reasons, including hallowing, plying and transportation of input and products on their farms. He wants them also to use the equipment for labor saving; timeliness of operations; and crops intensification.
Chea said the government was giving the machines to small farming groups because they want them to take ownership.
“We will also give rice processing machine later for a value-added purpose,” he added.
Featured photo by George Momo