(Buchanan, Grand Bassa County) — The United States Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has reiterated its commitment to helping Liberia reduce poverty and achieve food security.
Speaking at the close of a back-to-school garden competition for over 2,500 young farmers in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, USAID Deputy Mission Director Barbara Dickson said that through programs such as these the United States Government demonstrates its support of the Government of Liberia’s Agenda for Transformation and the Liberia Agriculture Sector Investment Plan to advance agricultural development.
The USAID Deputy Mission Director said developing youth capacity in agriculture and agribusiness is important for the country because it provides economy and food security for the future.
In a keynote address, Assistant Minister for Vocational and Technical Education Training at the Ministry of Youth & Sports, Boakai Jalieba, said agriculture is the single most important means to tackle unemployment and said that if Liberia is to achieve a middle income status by 2030 then technical and vocational education training is paramount to achieving this.
Deputy Agriculture Minister for Research, Development and Extension, Thomas Gbokie, pledged the government’s commitment to working closely with the young farmers in an effort to ensure that Liberia is self-sufficient in food production. “Let us create career opportunities in agriculture and the youths can tap into it …look at the value chain, everyone has a place in it”, he said.
The Back-to-School Program is a partnership of the Governments of Liberia and the United States, through two key USAID projects, Food and Enterprise Development (FED) and the Advancing Youth Project (AYP) in collaboration with the Community Youth Network Program (CYNP), which puts Liberia’s youth back in school while teaching them improved techniques of planting cassava and vegetables.
Over the last nine months, the program trained young farmers from 10 conventional and 10 Alternative Basic Education (ABE) sites in Grand Bassa County in land preparation, nursery management, transplanting, harvesting and storage while the ABE learners attended night school and learned to read, write and acquire basic skills in mathematics.
The event January 25 featured the winners of the Back-to-School Garden Competition, who were awarded a total of 80,000 Liberian dollars. The winning schools included the Gorblee Public School, Little Bassa Public School and Liberian Christian High School. The schools plan to use their prize money to expand their schools’ farms, to produce even greater yields in the future.