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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.


Crop & Fishery Production
ADC works with local farming communities to revamp the agricultural sector and equip the community members with valuable skills. ADC’s farming programs assist marginalized groups within communities, including the unemployed, lowly-skilled community members, internally displaced persons and excombatants. ADC trains farmers in appropriate and environmentally friendly farming techniques, while distributing basic tools, seeds, fingerlings and other inputs. VIA has specialized in lowland rice production, vegetable gardens and aquaculture.

rice


Post-Harvest Technology
In order to rise out of poverty and move beyond subsistence farming, the introduction of more advanced production technology is necessary. The use of appropriate farming technology increases agricultural yield and the value of the farmers’ crops. In recent agricultural projects, ADC has utilized low-cost technology that neither exacerbates resources nor requires large amounts of physical labor. In Lofa County in Liberia, ADC has introduced rice threshers and mille, cassava and peanut processors, rotary weeders, rototillers, drying slabs, and improved grain storage facilities.


Seed Multiplication

ADC has introduced NERICA rice in Liberia, a robust high-yield cross between Asian and African rice varieties. Seed banks have been established, and the most promising varieties are distributed to farmers.

 

Food For Work
Food-for-work programs have been used to strengthen the capacity of communities as well as increase the sustainability of development projects. ADC has established food for work programs in Liberia for needy farmers, where food distribution is tied to specific agricultural benchmarks. These programs result in the protection of seeds, the provision of nutritious food to poor families, the encouragement of farm preparation as well as community participation in agricultural training activities.

 

For ADC's Farmer Field Schools and WFP Livelihood Assets Promotion programs, click Read More

 

 

The Farmer Field School (FFS)
Donor: The Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC)
Budget:  US$ 43,054
Timeframe: 1 February – 31 December 2013
Location: Rice farming communities in Lofa County
Contact Persons: Koboi Lamine  (Monitoring and Evaluation Manager)
Program area: Food and Livelihood Security

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.

Methodology

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.

 

Result
This project supports vulnerable agrarian families to become more self-reliant and enhances their food security overall.  In Lofa county the effects of the Farmers’ Field School is immediate, as their yield has increased  as well as the farmers’ sense of ownership and autonomy.

 

Livelihood Assets Promotion (LAP)
Donor:  World Food Programme (WFP)

Location: Lofa and Nimba Counties, Liberia
Program area: Food Security

Budget:  US$110,000

Background:

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.

The LAR and LAP Projects were initiated in response to the global food crisis to mitigate the impact of the increase in food prices in Liberia over the past decade. The projects aim to increase national food production by enhancing the capacity of smallholder farming communities.  The primary beneficiaries are 1,500 rural farmers, focusing on the most vulnerable and food insecure households (50 households per community in 30 communities).   ADC undertakes the technical lead on lowland rice scheme design and construction to support bi-annual rice production (20 hectares in Lofa county and 10 hectares in Nimba county). This is facilitated through the design and construction of small dams and irrigation infrastructures, and throught the training of farmers in contemporary agronomic practices.

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.

Results

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.

Special thanks to The RISE Foundation, which provided support for the spillways in one particularly challenging site, namely Zaygley in Nimba County.

 

 

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