BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa- Amid the current economic hardship and huge importation of food, Grand Bassa Senator, Jonathan Kaipay is encouraging Liberians to return to the soil and grow more food.
Beginning the harvest of a five-acre of land planted with rice on his farm, Kaipay said the best place to invest to improve food security and transform the economy is the soil. He said investing in the soil can accelerate development. The farm is located on the out sketch of Buchanan, along the Benson River.
“This is a clear indication that our soil is rich, and we can invest in the soil,” he said.
“Couple of months ago, this place was a forest and we have been able to transform the forest into an active agricultural site. So, today, the beginning of the harvest is to say to the people of Liberia that the soil is the best bank that anyone can invest in.”
He said if the government prioritizes agriculture to secure a food self-sufficient nation, officials must begin to take the lead by investing in agriculture. Doing so, he said will motivate ordinary citizens to get involved.
According to him, his farm currently covers around five acres of land, but plans to increase it to around 15 to 20 acres next year. His dream is to be able to provide seedings for other farmers who cannot afford to purchase seeds to increase their productions. He said by doing so, he would be encouraging local farmers in his county to be active partakers in the agriculture sector and helping to achieve food security.
The Grand Bassa lawmaker believes that more Liberians were willing to invest in the soil, but the limited or lack of support was their major impediment, so their farms are not large enough to feed their families for a year.
“There is a need for government to invest in the agriculture sector by putting in more resources to go away from shifting cultivation to mechanized farming, and by that, the economy of the country will be shifted,” he explained.
“It is about food security, self-sufficiency and setting the stage that our recovery can be speedy in the production of agricultural produce, and so, this farm I will say to the people of Grand Bassa and Liberia that we are ready to lead the process of food security.”
He said due to insufficient locally grown rice, Liberians have no choice on what kind of rice to eat thereby depending on what is brought in the country by importers. He said prioritizing investment in agriculture and producing more locally grown rice would secure the choice for Liberians, ensure self-sufficiency and boost the economy.
As a member of the Senate committee on agriculture, the Grand Bassa lawmaker expressed the need for government to be proactive by investing more in agriculture by strengthening technical institutions to train more Liberians and provide them access to opportunities.
“I want to see an agriculture ministry that will move beyond giving seeds and signing projects with international partners FAO and this and that, but an agriculture [ministry] that will be able to put some time and energy into practical agricultural activities,” he emphasized.
“We need preservation center for farmers to preserve their produce in order to motivate them, farm-to-market road is also a challenge, we as a government must be intentional.”
In addition to rice, Kaipay also operates 14 fish ponds that contain tilapia, a very expensive species of fish that is very rich in protein.
The county’s agriculture coordinator, Joyce Korvah described him as the only fish farmer in Grand Bassa.
The lawmaker also hopes that the Ministry of Agriculture would present to the legislature a holistic plan that would attract more budgetary support in the coming fiscal year.
Featured photo courtesy of Mustapha Kummeh