Saniquellie, Nimba County — U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac says the U.S. Government is making major investments to support Liberia’s agriculture sector and its agricultural education through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Food and Enterprise Development program, known as FED.
In an address (April 2) to 400 school administrators, faculty and students at Nimba County Community College (NCCC), Ambassador Malac said many of the students studying agriculture at the institution represent the future of agriculture not just in Nimba County, but in Liberia as a whole.
She said a major component of the FED program is to build the capacity of Liberia’s vocational institutions, like NCCC, by creating Centers of Excellence in Agriculture, which offer high quality agricultural education and training services to students and residents in the area.
Ambassador Malac noted that the U.S. Government believes that by encouraging and investing in Liberian youth to study agriculture, Liberia’s food security will be assured in the future.
The average age of most Liberian farmers is over 50 and few young people express an interest in entering the agriculture sector. One of the purposes of the FED program at NCCC and other Centers of Excellence, she said, is to help change this attitude by improving access to quality education and vocational training and to demonstrate that farming can be profitable and rewarding.
“We are currently working at four different community colleges to create Centers of Excellence: Nimba, Lofa, and Grand Bassa Community Colleges and the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Margibi County,” she said.
The U.S. envoy said the U.S. Government’s efforts aim to improve the agriculture department curriculum, the availability of textbooks and computers, and the basic infrastructure of each institution so students can come to the Centers to learn. She added that the U.S. Government, through USAID, has partnered with NCCC to create agriculture demonstration plots where students can learn new farming techniques first-hand.
“By improving your institution and the quality of agriculture education,” Ambassador Malac said, “your ability to have a successful career in the agriculture sector greatly increases.”
USAID’s FED program is now in its third year of implementation, and there is a strong collaboration between the Government of Liberia and the U.S. Government, as well as other key stakeholders, in developing the agriculture sector and future farmers of Liberia.
“The people of the United States stand by our Liberian friends in agriculture and economic development,” Ambassador Malac told the audience, “and we reaffirm our strong commitment to helping Liberia reduce poverty and achieve food security.”