Endowed with abundant natural resources, fertile land and a population essentially young, Liberia can make a difference if more investment could be put into the Agriculture sector to increase nutritious food production in the country, generate decent jobs and incomes as well as support national economy, opined Mr. Marc Abdala, Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Liberia.
“Liberia can reach the level of improvement in agriculture like other countries, but this rest upon the policy makers including the government to put into place an enabling environment, the policy and strategies that will attract more investment into the agriculture sector.”
Making reference to country like Brazil in the improvement of agriculture, Mr. Abdala said Liberia with a total population around 4 million people, there would be abundance of food enough to feed everybody and to sell for income generation provided at least 50% of the population could be adequately involved in farming business and proper attention to the private sector’s investment in agriculture. “
He also added that empowering the youth and women to invest into agriculture will also generate more income and support poverty reduction and food security.
Speaking in an interview with New Narrative Online Newspaper, the FAO Representative said prioritizing agriculture will create more jobs for the population. He added that food security can only be achieved if people can have regular access to, sufficient and nutritious available food.
Mr. Abdala said many young men and women are attracted to the mining sector due to the high level of unemployment.
He said agriculture is an essential part of the Liberia economy and serves as the main source of income for many rural dwellers, “Agriculture is a strategic sector because about 70% of the population depends directly or indirectly on it for their livelihoods.”
He described agriculture “could be a major contributor to the economy in terms of employment and foreign exchange earnings, and a primary determinant of nutrition, poverty reduction and rural transformation.”
The FAO Boss further stated that unlike some sectors of investments with apparent short gestation period, the effects of agricultural investment require patience but the effect on economic growth and development may be significant and more sustainable. Agriculture may become real vital means of youth employment and sustainable livelihood development in Liberia and will continue to contribute towards the development of the country and its economy.
He said women are the backbone of the development to the national economy, “They comprise 43% of the world’s agricultural labor force, which rises to 70% in some countries, according to a report released by FAO in 2010.”
In Africa, he added, smallholder farmers play a very critical role in agricultural production where rural women could sometimes represent the largest percentage of the workforce. Unfortunately, there is still unequal access and control over land and productive resources. Beyond the access and control over resources, women work under hard conditions and are not equally involved in decision making processes making their position undermined.
He noted that to achieve the 2030 global agenda, for sustainable development goals,’ it is vital that women development be effectively part of the process of ending hunger, achieving food security as well as improving nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture as required by the global agenda.
He mentioned that women are an important part of the solution needed to truly overcome poverty, “If women are empowered, they can transfer improvements in their own lives to the lives of their children, families and the communities.”
“Women are working with lot of difficulties; we need to improve their skills by providing them with the level of support that will make agriculture easier for them, attractive business.”
He said women need modern equipment such as agro processing machines to alleviate their workload and to add value to their agro-production, “We also need to provide access to market in order to allow them sell their produce.”