The Green Diamond Community Garden and Literacy Program – Liberia, Africa
The Greener Diamond’s second farm is located in Liberia and at this farm, we are doing things a little differently. This farm is a five acre community farm that is attached to a community center in Gbarnage, Liberia. This project is based on the idea of paying-it-forward.
We train and supply the necessary tools and seedlings to a select group of people (mostly women) at our community farm, so they can go back to their own land and farm it to support their family and local community. In return, these people will then train another 10 people in their local community and those 10 people will train another 10 and so on.
Project Details - Gbarnga Community, Liberia
Nutrition and Farming Situation in Liberia
Balanced diet is a serious problem in Liberia because of the lack skills in food preservation and farmer motivation in diverse food crops production. Though Liberia has a fertile soil for crop production, there are impediments that prevent farmers from producing food crops on a large scale that they could eat and have enough to sell excess. They don’t have the skills necessary to preserve seeds and produce through the next cropping season. These farmers cannot also do any commercial farming because of the lack of training and adequate farming tools for mass cultivations. Produce, such as fruits and vegetables, in Liberia are seasonal. Most fruits and vegetables in Liberia are produced during the earlier part of the rainy season. After the end of the fruits and vegetable season, only people with high earnings buy and eat imported fruits and vegetables.
Farmers are still struggling to recover from the effects of the fourteen years of civil war in Liberia. During the war, many farmers abandoned their farms to seek refuge while fighters looted farms and their equipment. The war is now over and farmers have returned to their farms but they are not motivated to grow fruits and vegetables for commercial purpose because they don’t have the training, tools, seeds and preservation skills.
Government of Liberia statistics states that over 60% of the country’s population of 3.5 million is unemployed. Large numbers of Liberia’s population especially those living in rural areas survive on subsistence farming. Because of the lack of adequate seeds for planting, hands tools, and technical agriculture skills, farmer harvest yield is poor, thus making it difficult for them and their families to have food that would last for the entire cropping season of the year, neither would they have excess produce to sell in other to financially support their kids to school. This is also preventing lot of Liberian kids from getting an education. Government’s statistic also states that six out every 10 kids in Liberia are not in school.
The Greener Diamond, Hope for Children of Africa through Sustainable Human Empowerment (SHE) will introduce a small agriculture program that would help address some of these dying needs of subsistence farmers in Gbarnga, Bong County, Liberia.
The program will help to raise farmers’ productivity and will enable farmers to grow diverse food crops to balance their family meal and diet. We anticipate that the program will train and motivate 100 household head farmers to grow fruits and vegetables in the first years. The yield and of fruits and vegetable production will increase and they will have more to eat in their homes and be able to sell the excess for income generation. Through fruits and vegetable productions, farmers will also be able to support their kids to school as they sell some of their produce.
Sustainable Human Empowerment has organized a group consisting of 10 household head farmers to establish a demonstration site in Gbarnga that would be used for vegetable production, seed multiplication, and training. When established, agriculture training will be provided to over 100 household head farmers each year. Farmers will be trained and encouraged to make fruits and vegetable gardens for food supplement to rice, a Liberian staple. Farmers will also do palatability testing of their produce, the ten household head farmers along with their families will have monthly dinner together during the harvest period of their crops using some of their produce. It is strongly believed that the community families’ dinner will keep their union strong and demonstrate the values of nutrition or balanced diet.
We are hoping to invite individuals with nutrition training to speak to the families during the dinner about the importance of nutrition and a balanced diet. Sustainable Human Empowerment will partner with other organizations for the literacy aspect of nutrition. Simple techniques in crop productions and food preservation will be taught to farmers at the site. The site would also be used as a Seed Bank where Sustainable Human Empowerment would preserve and loan out seeds to farmer that would be in need. Seeds such as peanuts, beans, and other vegetables will be multiplied at the site. The program intends to cultivate 10 acres of low land. Low land cultivation In Liberia is suitable for this program because of access to water during the dry season.
The group of 10 household head farmers and Sustainable Human Empowerment are eager and gearing up to produce freshly grown assorted vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, watermelon, cucumber, beans, cabbage, corn, sweet potatoes, and many others during this dry season in Liberia.
Two members of the group have donated a family plot of land of over 10 acres including lowland in the suburb of Gbarnga intended only for use for the ‘Gbarnga Community Garden project.
Sustainable Human Empowerment will hire the services of Agriculture trained technician to conduct periodic training to the ten household head farmers during the course of the project. The ten trained project members will then serve as trainers to new incoming members and other farmers who want to learn after the first phase of the project or after the first cropping season.