Food Security Programs
ADC’s Food Security portfolio has expanded rapidly within recent years by addressing immediate needs while promoting long-term project sustainability and capacity building within the communities we serve. ADC’s food security programs have focused on crop and fishery production, seed rice, post-harvest technology and food-for-work programs.
Food For Work
For ADC's Farmer Field Schools and WFP Livelihood Assets Promotion programs, click Read More
The Farmer Field School (FFS)
ADC cooperates with SDC and WFP to improve the food security and livelihood of rural Liberians. ADC improves technical layouts of lowland swamps in Lofa and Nimba Counties to better sustain food crops such as rice and vegetables. This is done through the development and rehabilitation of the land. To supplement this larger program, ADC is running a pilot program for 2013, called the Farmer Field School in Lofa County, funded by SDC. There is much demand for this kind of grassroots training, not only to improve farming capabilities but to increase economic and community leadership.
Over half of the registered farmers from each community benefit from at least one training session per month. Our main strength is in our “learning by doing” teaching approach, which helps build the field technicians’ capacity to pass on their knowledge. It also enhances farmers’ capacities for informed decision-making. FFS is based on non-formal teaching practice (no pen and paper), largely due to the high rate of illiteracy. ADC agronomists share knowledge with farmers, and take in their advice on how best to maintain traditional and low-cost practices. The FFS classes focus on agricultural techniques, but also other life skills such as health and HIV awareness, gender based violence and leadership. This, in conjunction with teaching basic accountancy skills, entrepreneurship skills for agribusiness and how to store produce safely, helps to economically empower the partner communities.
Livelihood Assets Promotion (LAP)
Location: Lofa and Nimba Counties, Liberia
In 2010 Africa Development Corps, World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), implemented the European Union Food Facility Program’s Livelihood Asset Rehabilitation (LAR) project in Bong and Lofa Counties, Liberia. This project evolved into the Livelihood Assets Promotion (LAP) program, where ADC could use its experience and expertise in Lofa and Nimba Counties, Liberia.
Phase 1: Selecting Rural Communities
Lofa and Nimba were selected for their ideal rice growing environments: both have an abundance of swamps and a connection with low-land rice farming prior to the Liberian Civil War. 100 locations were identified by the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the existing farmers’ groups and ADC staff. Each of these locations were visited by MOA, ADC, WFP and SDC. Questionnaires were conducted concerning the farming communities’ working methods, output, motivation and accessibility. After careful consideration 30 communities were selected for the program.
Phase 2: Training Local Communities
VIA values the vital working relationships we form with the farmers. Prior to the project, our partner communities developed upland farms with both rice and vegetables, for which they slashed and burned down areas of forest. However agricultural experts from ADC, SDC and WFP concluded that swampland rice farming would be more economically beneficial and sustainable for the farmers. ADC’s strong relationships ensure that it can face the challenges to the project to help attain the final objective of harvesting two rice crops per year while greatly increasing yield per hectare.
In order to improve the overall understanding of the LAP program and to enhance program sustainability, ADC trains the farmers in modern rice farming techniques with weekly visits of Field Technicians assigned by the LAP program and the SDC funded program, Farmers Field School (FFS). With an illiteracy rate of over 80% this can be challenging; however, the strong relationships bolster ADC’s ability to ensure positive outcomes. Emphasis on the increased yield and thereby income for the farmers is a focus of community training visits. Communities are encouraged to democratically elect farming leadership within the groups, so they can self-determine how to handle their harvest. Some groups divide the yield among the participating families, while others use the money from the sale of the rice for common investments in their communities.
Phase 3: Manual Labour All communities commit to working in the rice fields at least 3 working days per week (or 12 days per month) to meet the LAP objectives. In light of past experience with various incentive mechanisms, ADC utilizes Cash For Work (CFW) as a means to motivate its farmers. The cash injection in the communities has very positive secondary outcomes. Some beneficiaries expand or start a small retail business in the community while others use the cash received to pay for medical expenses, children’s school fees or simply saving some money for future expenses. These illustrate an immediate improvement in the well being of participating communities.
In 2013 ADC and its farmers established 30 hectares of irrigated swamps that will resist the hardships of the dry season. This will yield two rice crops in the year, as opposed to non-irrigated farming which only yields one crop per year. With an average expected yield of 3 metric tons of rice per hectare, this will result in 180 metric tons of rice harvested in one calendar year. By September 2014 ADC hopes to have repeated this success so that proper swamp rice farming and double cropping is engrained in the Liberian agricultural practice. The greater production will increase the rice supply, lowering prices and improving food security for Liberian families.