Friday, 13 May 2011

Championing Food Security

AFRICA LEAD Team To Conduct Training Of Several Liberians 
Stresses Need For Food Security

Wade C.L. Williams
-Suakoko Bong County
AFRICA LEAD Deputy Chief of Party Carla Dominique Denizard says with the looming global food security crisis it is important that countries begin to place emphasis on agriculture as a means of saving the continent from hunger. “There’s a call from the Africa Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) for nations to adopt an agriculture-led growth strategy o bring about economic development. So that is why AFRICA LEAD aims at supporting CAADP and geared to help scale up food security,” said Denizard.
The AFRICA LEAD Executive says she wants people in authority to make a commitment to help farmers in Liberia.
Says Denizard: “To help them grow and produce more food and to earn money from it. 80% of the people in this country are farming and they don’t get a lot of support like they should and if they get more support, they will be able to increase food production, and they’ll be able to get more money and we will have food on our tables to eat and more money in our pockets,” said Denizard.
The project’s Deputy Chief of Party made the remarks when she visited Liberia recently to assess the work of Champions of the project in Liberia.
Marion M.S. Nimley one of the Champions as AFRICA LEAD refers to people who are part of its training program, says food security is a major issue that rural women need to be aware of.
Says Nimley: “Women from the rural end have not really realized the importance of food security they just take it casual. But from the training that we acquired from Accra we want to put a mechanism in place that we will be able to get the rural women who are involved in agriculture and involve them into the food security process.
Agriculture becoming greatest priority
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaking at the recently organized Agriculture Fair held under the Cuttington University, noted that government must now move in making agriculture its greatest priority not only for the nation to be able to feed itself but to be able to go back and restore those exports that  it had many years ago. “We must do more if we are going to support agriculture and increase the awareness and appreciation of the results of agriculture making agriculture profitable giving all the risk associated with farming,” says president Sirleaf.
Rev. Momo S. Foh, JP, Dean College of Agriculture and Integrated Development Studies, CALDS, CUC says the aim of the Agricultural fair is to bring together all stake holders who are promoting farming in the country.
James Z. Grear of NGO-Coalition among the first batch of agricultural professionals trained by AFRICA LEAD in Ghana says he has benefitted a lot from the training provided by the project. He highlights the most important thing he learned from the training as ‘not to be satisfied with the status quo’ which he says requires thinking out of the box.
 Grear says he also learned that team work should be encouraged as a team leader. He says his expertise is in the forest sector with specific mandate to sensitize community dwellers about laws concerning forests and the right of community dwellers to scrutinize concessioners before they can give up their areas for such activities.
AFRICA LEAD is a key capacity building project of the United State’s government’s Feed the Future initiative. It operates in three regions with offices in Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa. It also covers at least thirteen sub-Saharan Countries working across public, civil society, university and private sector institutions.
It builds the capacity of leaders to prioritize key activities and implement the Regional and Country Investment plans within the CAADP framework.
AFRICA LEAD is a key capacity building arm of the United State’s government’s Feed the Future initiative. It operates in three regions with offices in Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa. It is also in at least thirteen sub-Saharan Countries working across public, civil society, university and private sector institutions.
Denizard says AFRICA LEAD, a United States Agency for International Development, USAID funded project  has trained forty five senior and mid level Agriculture professionals from Liberia who are currently working in government, private sector, civil society and in research organizations.
Denizard says the aim of training these professionals is to empower them to take up leadership roles to bring about transformation in agriculture in Liberia.
“We call it the champions for change Leadership Training and forty-five Liberians have gone to Ghana for this regional training. We will be recruiting another fifty-five Liberians to participate in the program,” said Denizard.
The Africa lead Deputy Chief of Party says the organization’s involvement with the recent agricultural fair at the CUC was intended to help in implementing the Fair and make recommendations on how it can be improved in the future.
Denizard said that some staff from CUC will have the opportunity to travel to learn from and participate in other bigger agriculture shows on the continent so they can learn best practices in agriculture show implementation and apply that knowledge and replicate it in Liberia in the future.
The United States Ambassador to Liberia, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield who also attended the program says agriculture is the key to Liberia’s future as it relates to food security.
“A nation that can feed itself is a nation that will survive, a nation that can feed itself is a nation with a future,” says Ambassador Greenfield.
The U.S diplomat and the new Country Director for USAID Patricia Radar during a session with the AFRICA LEAD team thanked the group for briefing the U.S Embassy on their activities.
Ambassador Greenfield also said successful farmers are successful business people but the issue of loan is a major issue as people who take loans from the banks to engage in small business do not want to pay back on those loans.
Country Director Radar says she will be keeping up with the team on how those who are trained by AFRICA LEAD are impacting Liberia from the training they acquire.
 The AFRICA LEAD Team from Ghana made up of Ms. Carla Denizard and Dr John Azu visited Liberia last month during the visit the team conducted an assessment of the Agriculture Fair held under the auspices of the Cuttington University in Suakoko Bong County.