By Sally Denia Tulorgbo 0770281023

Kakata, Margibi County, April 13, 2024: Agriculture in Liberia is a major sector of the country’s economy worth 38.8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employing more than 70% of the population and providing a valuable export as defined by the UN.

Liberia has a climate favorable for farming, vast forests, and an abundance of water yet low yields, good soils for crop production, Liberia has long suffered from food insecurity, due to extreme poverty and endemic in-efficiencies in the country’s food and agricultural sector.

The sector also lacks basic infrastructure such as machines, farming equipment, farm to market roads, fertilizers, and pesticides as well as food storage capacity. In spite of these and many challenges, the agriculture sector is still attractive to many Liberians because they believe this is one way they can raise money to send their children to school and keep their family going, this is why a group of Women farmers in Margibi county have decided to engage and invest in the soil as part of efforts to improve their livelihood.

However, all seem not to be too well as the women farmers have revealed that the lack of farming tools is a major challenge affecting food production in the County.

According to the Women farmers, they have been producing food but on a low scale due to the unavailability of key farming materials which include wheelbarrow, shovels, cutlass, among others. “If we have farming tools available to us, we believe we can produce more in Margibi county and on the national market” the women farmers said.

“Our agricultural sector is poorly integrated and lacks basic infrastructure thus creating struggles for farmers especially us women in the sector’’. Farm to-market roads, fertilizers, pesticides, food storage capacity, machines, farming equipment and tools are all materials the sector locks to proactively produce sufficient crops on the Liberian market” one of the female farmers said.

According to a 2023 World Bank report published by Senior Agriculture Economist Adetunji-oredipe, women play a significant role in agriculture in Liberia and account for approximately 80 percent of agricultural labor force and are responsible for 93 percent of food crop production despite challenges they faced in accessing agricultural inputs and financing

Ma Hawa Jacob, a seasoned gardener with over 15 years of experience based in the Walker’s Farm community, is currently producing carrots, bitter, and pepper on her farm. She expressed the hardships she and her fellow farmers encounter daily using their beg hands for farming works.

She said the lack of farming tools and quality seeds have greatly hampered their efforts to produce more crops such carrots, bitter, pepper, among others in the county. “We can produce more food if we are empowered by our own government, we can go on naming different challenges we faced as women in the sector but all we are asking for now is major farming materials that will boost our farming activities. She went on to say, “The lack of farming tools and quality seeds are greatly hampering our efforts to producing more food (carrots, bitter ball, and pepper), the crucial need for support in acquiring resources to enhance productivity and ensure food security in Liberia and the region must be our concern for now”.

Ma Annie Tulorbgo another farmer in Marbigi County engaged in ginger, rice, and fish production said It is incredibly challenging to obtain the necessary resources needed for her agriculture works thus hindering her ability to meet market demands. She said the struggles to access agricultural materials are essential for cultivating her crops cannot be overemphasized.

Ma Tulorbgo wants the government to provide support and facilitate access to vital agricultural inputs to boost local farming initiatives.
Emmanuel Sackie, another local farmer residing in Dennisville community, Margibi County, specializes in cassava cultivation Sackie highlighted the persistent challenges faced by farmers in accessing adequate tools and quality seeds calling on the government and partners to invest more in agriculture to be able to feel and surroundings emphasizing the urgent need for intervention to improve farming conditions. “Despite our dedication, the lack of essential agricultural products continues to impede our progress”. he echoed similar disappointment.

Local Farmers have struggled over the years to access major farming tools and Agricultural Products to enhance agricultural activities across the county. The lack of these farming tools and Agricultural Products is causing significant challenges in accessing essential tools and other agricultural products necessary for farmers’ livelihoods especially women according to them these difficulties are hindering their abilities to sustainably produce crops and provide for their communities and the country at large. “It’s incredibly challenging to obtain the necessary resources for our fields, hindering our ability to meet market demands,” she emphasized.

Responding to farmers’ concerns, Madam E. Musu Young, Margibi County Agriculture Coordinator, assured farmers of the government’s commitment to addressing their needs. She said, “We understand the challenges faced by our local farmers and we are dedicated to providing swift intervention,”

Young disclosed ongoing efforts by the government and agricultural partners to assist farmers by supplying seeds and essential agricultural materials. She emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts in enhancing agricultural productivity and ensuring food sufficiency in Margibi County.

“With the promise of government support and coordinated efforts from agricultural partners, local farmers in Margibi County remain hopeful for improved access to tools, seeds, and agricultural products, paving the way for sustainable farming practices and economic prosperity in the county”.

A report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which talks about the importance of agriculture in the Liberian economy states that, historically, the Liberian economy has depended heavily on foreign direct investments including foreign aid and exports of cash crops, natural resources, and mining. However, like most sub-Saharan economies, its exports are dominated by raw materials rather than value-added or processed commodities.

The principal exports include iron ore, rubber, gold, as well as timber. The current account balance of payments is constrained by a huge negative trade balance. Against an average (2005-2015) of more than US$ 240 million in imports, exports earned just US$ 15 million. The high deficit in the balance is mainly due to the very narrow export base coupled with lower receipts from some of the existing exports e.g. rubber.

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