(Yekepa, Nimba) − A group of nineteen-vegetable farmers in Yekepa Township has lauded the support of ArcelorMittal Liberia to them through the Agriculture Relief Services (ARS) which is improving their farming activities and crop yields.
The Yekepa Vegetables Gardening Group comprising 11 females and eight men started its project early this year without any external support. Each member paid the amount of LRD$1,000 to purchase seeds, fertilizer, and food. After commencing the project, ARS intervened upon receiving a little over US$116,000 this year from ArcelorMittal for biodiversity conservation support, providing the newly formed group some vegetable seeds, rainboots, and working tools.
The group recently presented samples of their first harvest to the office of AML’s Agronomist Samuel Peter to show appreciation to AML and used the moment to stress their commitment to working harder to produce more vegetables and other farm products that could supply the AML canteens and the local market.
They however outlined some challenges and appealed for AML’s support in addressing them.
George N. Wonyeneh, the group’s supervisor named the destruction of their crops by pests and parasites, the lack of fertilizer, and the difficulty in getting food as challenges facing them.
“We need financial support to overcome these challenges. Yes, AML through ARS has provided us some support that enabled us to get some seeds and working materials, but we still need more seeds of different varieties, fertilizer, and insecticide because the soil is not fertilized enough and the parasites are too much here,” Wonyeneh said.
Wonyeneh also appealed for food assistance for the group’s members on farm working days. He said most of the group’s members are women, including some widows who cannot afford the daily cost of food on working days.
Josiah N. Gontee, head of the project concurred with the previous speakers’ plea and emphasized the need for insecticide, seeds, and fertilizer to boost their gardening activity and yields.
AML’s Agronomist, Samuel Peter, extended gratitude to the group for the courtesy visit to the company and said the Biodiversity Conservation Program is meant to expand household food security and income generation through sustainable agriculture intensification.
He noted that this goal clearly matches the activities of the farmers and added that the activities carried out by the farmers support ArcelorMittal Liberia and the government’s forest conservation goal.
In addition to what the farmers have received from ARS, Mr. Peter said between June and August they year, they will receive additional seeds, tools, fertilizer, and food when the second payment is made to ARS. He said he is also working with the Ministry of Agriculture to provide additional support through the MOA STAR-Project.
The AML Agronomist said activities of farmers supported by AML in the affected communities were important because they will help tell the story of how the company is supporting important initiatives to empower local communities while conserving the forest.