|Swamp Development Program|
The Africa Development Corps-USDA-IRDO Swamp Rice Development Program
Africa Development Corps has implemented its Swamp Rice Development Program in Lofa County, Liberia since 2006. The program assists 2000 rice farmers in 40 communities in five districts: Salayea, Zorzor, Voinjama, Kolahun, and Foya. With the goal of increasing farmers' rice production and yield per acre,the program provides improved New Rice for Africa (NERICA) rice seed, basic hand tools and intermediate technology to make farming less labor-intensive and move farmers past subsistence levels of production. The program is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture's Food for Progress program, and is implemented with technical assistance from the Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDO), a local NGO.
In its first year the Swamp Rice Development Program had distributed cutlasses, hoes, shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, diggers, axes, rainboots, twine, and rice bags to 2000 farmers. ADC has also trained farmers in improved lowland rice production techniques, expanded the acreage of land dedicated to lowland rice farming, rehabilitated pre-war canals and bunds, introduced and multiplied NERICA rice, and introduced intermediate technology, including weeders, threshers, mills, tillers, and a tractor.
Examples of "intermediate technology" between labor-intensive traditional agricultural methods and expensive ultra-modern systems include:
-manual rice threshers driven by leg or arm movements. Manual rice threshers separate the rice grains from the stalks.
-Small rice mills powered by small gas or diesel engine. Rice mills remove the husks from the rice after they have been threshed.
-Rotary weeders used to push through the rows in rice fields to remove weeds. The rotary weeder uses a rotary cutter powered by the moving wheels.
-Come-along winches are used to manually apply leverage to remove tree stumps. Tree stumps are the greatest impediment to expanding rice fields.
-Stump grinder (11 HP small gas engine) grinds the stumps of trees cut down to expand swamp margins.
-Rototiller (6 HP small gas engine) cuts up soil and prepares it for planting.
-Chainsaw to cross-cut trees that have been felled manually in the swamp. It is very difficult to remove these trees as they are very heavy when not cut.
-Tractor (53 HP with backhoe, front end loader, tire chains, and detachable tiller) to build bunds and canals, dig fish ponds, and clear brush and debris from land.
NERICA rice is also part of the new technology being introduced. Cross-pollinating an African rice variety with an Asian rice variety results in new kinds of rice, in which some (not all) of the new varieties capture the best qualities of both types. The high yield and quick maturity of the Asian rice with the strong disease resistance of the African rice. Only through extensive experimentation and field-based testing is it possible to determine which varieties have the best qualities of both types of rice, which are then identified, multiplied, and given to farmers to try in their fields. For more about NERICA rice, see the NERICA article under "News."
LOFA COMMUNITIES: The 40 Lofa communities receiving assistance in lowland rice production include: