Project Title: Emergency Support to Increase Local Food Production
Description: Distribution of Integrated Production and Pest Management inputs
Donor: U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization
Implementing Partner: Africa Development Corps
Document Type: Success Story
Liberia is slowly rebuilding since the 14 year-long civil war ended in 2003. Lofa County in Northern Liberia is one of the counties most devastated by the war and many Liberian refugees are still returning to their communities. Because of this internal conflict, Sonnie Deddeh has not been able to provide for her family. Sonnie lives in the interior mountains of Northern Liberia in Voinjama City, Lofa County, where she is the sole provider for her family. In 2006, Sonnie returned to her home and decided to change her impoverished state by devising a solid plan using agriculture as a way to support her family, and bring them out of poverty. Sonnie’s story was not unique in her close-knit community. Under Sonnie’s leadership, 40 women and 10 men united to form Etoba, a farming coalition within the town of Voinjama.
Etoba was created as a solution to end poverty and to create sustainable food security. Members rely on each other’s talents and resources instead of being solely dependent on outside institutions. However, despite their power in numbers, the community members still faced many challenges. Their 30 acres of rice was stunted due to pest infestations and birds eating portions of their crops in the growing season. Rats further diminished the rice in the post-harvest season.
In 2008, hope came to Etoba. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Africa Development Corps (ADC) collaborated to provide agricultural inputs to various communities throughout Lofa County as a means of promoting and sustaining food security. Etoba was selected as a beneficiary because of its demonstrated dedication and commitment to agriculture and their partnership with ADC.
The community received liquid fertilizers and spraying cans for the field, flash tape criss-crossing the rice paddies for scaring birds, and zinc to line the doorways of their homes to prevent rats from invading the rice storage. Sonnie becomes visibly excited when talking about the inputs, particularly the fertilizer. “The rice was not fine. It was small but two weeks after spraying it was HIGH! We harvested big-big bags!” she exclaimed. . ADC also trained the farmers on proper spraying techniques and the use of liquid fertilizer. Sonnie believes that the flash tape and zinc helped decrease losses from birds and rats. Before the use of these new implements, children within the community would run around protecting the crops from the birds. The flash tape saves labor and now the children can devote more time to their studies and helping with harvesting. According to Sonnie, the rats are no longer “plenty” and the community has more rice to consume and sell due to the use of implements provided by ADC.
After years of sharing their water supply with a neighboring community, a canal was built which diverted Etoba’s water and resulted in a water shortage resulting in major crop loss. The dry season in Lofa County is particularly harsh, as dried-up wells are common. Sonnie believes the inputs provided by ADC certainly helped offset the losses due to the water shortage. As chairlady, Sonnie has great hopes for Etoba. Since the organization began, Etoba has increased its farm size to include a vegetable garden and has generated enough income to cover their children’s’ school fees. Sonnie remains committed to her project. She believes that with more time and support, one day they will sell their produce to Monrovia. “Someday you will walk through the markets of Monrovia and see ‘Etoba rice’ on the bags and you will think of me. Etoba is on its way!”
Elizabeth Sukup was a Africa Development Corps Supported Volunteer in Lofa County, Liberia.
25 February 2009