Nelly Bassily | August 11, 2008
Farm Radio Weekly first looked at the struggles and tenacity of Liberian farmers when we published the story “Farmers rebuild agriculture sector against all odds” in Issue 9, February 2008. We learned that as more than one million Liberians return to their homeland following the civil war that ended in 2003, farmers are facing an uphill battle to re-establish their livelihoods.
In this story we see the particular challenges of cocoa farmers, a group with special concerns because most of their crop is produced for export. Cocoa farmers in Lofa, Nimba, and Bong counties have benefitted from the Sustainable Tree Crops Program, which has helped to ensure that farmers have the skills and genetic resources (hybrid seedlings on par with those used by Ivory Coast, the world’s leading cocoa producer) needed to rehabilitate their cocoa plantations. To learn more about Sustainable Tree Crops Program initiatives in West and Central Africa, visit: http://www.treecrops.org/.
Readers in other areas recovering from conflict may recognize some of the challenges faced by Liberian farmers, such as the need to rehabilitate untended fields and rebuild seed supplies, all without the support infrastructure such as roads and credit systems they may have enjoyed prior to the conflict. The following Farm Radio International scripts provide information and ideas for farmers working to re-establish their livelihoods following a conflict:
–“Rebuilding local seed supplies after armed conflict or other emergency situations” (Package 67, Script 1, June 2003)
–“Sharing the load after conflict: Villagers start a revolving loan fund” (Package 67, Script 4, June 2003)
If you broadcast to an area that is recovering from conflict, your farmers will surely have many stories to tell. You may consider hosting a phone-in show to ask farmers questions such as:
-When you returned to your farm, what were the first steps you took to begin providing food for your family?
-Have you altered your farming practices since your return (for example, does the farmer now plant “survival” crops to provide food in difficult times)?
-What challenges have you faced – and what challenges do you continue to face – in rebuilding your farm and farming business?
-How has your community and/or farmers’ association worked together to overcome these challenges?