MONRIVIA, June 22 (LINA) − A group of 19 vegetable farmers in Yekepa Township, Nimba County has lauded the support of ArcelorMittal Liberia through the Agriculture Relief Services (ARS) which is improving their farming activities and crop yields.
The Yekepa Vegetable Gardening Group, which consists of 11 females and eight males, started its project early this year without external support. Each member paid the amount of L$1,000 to purchase of seeds, fertilizer, and food.
After commencing the project, ARS intervened upon receiving a little over US$116,000 this year from ArcelorMittal for biodiversity conservation support, providing the newly-formed group some vegetable seeds, rain boots, and working tools.
The group recently presented samples of their first harvest to the office of AML’s Agronomist, Samuel Peter, to show appreciation to AML and used the occasion to stress their commitment to work harder to produce more vegetables and other farm produce that could supply the AML canteens and the local market.
They, however, outlined some challenges, and appealed for AML’s support in addressing them.
Mr. George N. Wonyeneh, the group’s supervisor, named the destruction of their crops by pests and parasites, lack of fertilizer, and the difficulty in getting food, as challenges being faced by them.
“We need financial support to overcome these challenges. Yes, AML through ARS, has provided us some support that enabled us to get some seeds and working materials, but we still need more seeds of different varieties, fertilizer, and insecticide because the soil is not fertile enough and the parasites are too much here,” Wonyeneh said.
He also appealed for food assistance for the group’s members on farm working days and said most of the group’s members are women, including some widows, who cannot afford the daily cost of food on working days.
Josiah N. Gontee, head of the project, concurred with the previous speakers’ plea and emphasized the need for insecticide, seeds, and fertilizer to boost their gardening activity and yields.
AML’s Agronomist, Samuel Peter, extended gratitude to the group for the courtesy visit to the company, and said the Biodiversity Conservation Program is meant to expand household food security and income generation through sustainable agriculture intensification.
He noted that this goal clearly matches the activities of the farmers and added that the activities carried out by the farmers support ArcelorMittal Liberia and the government’s forest conservation goal.
Mr. Peter said in addition to what the farmers received from ARS, between June and August this year, they will receive additional seeds, tools, fertilizer, and food, when the second payment is made to ARS.
Peter said he is also working with the Ministry of Agriculture to provide additional support through the MOA STAR-Project.
The AML agronomist said activities of farmers supported by AML in the affected communities were important because they will help tell the story of how the company is supporting important initiatives to empower local communities while conserving the forest.