“I do think this next century, hopefully, will be about a more global view. Where you don’t just think, yes my country is doing well, but you think about the world at large” ~Bill Gates
I embrace the opportunity to share stories of local people who are inspiring global change. I made John Paye’s acquaintance while touring the HAFA Farm in Vermillion, MN in the Fall of 2018. I was in the initial stages of gathering information for my farm to fork sustainability series. My articles feature farmers and the restaurateurs/chefs/businesses that source from them. John was there to gain knowledge regarding how to give life to a project similar to the one HAFA has created in Minnesota. John’s farm is in Bong County, Liberia which is located on the West African Coast. I recently met with John again to learn about the progress of The Liberian Agricultural Project . I hope you are as moved by his work as I am.
The Liberian Agricultural Project
The Liberian Agricultural Project was founded in 2018 and is a nonprofit organization that is committed to supporting Liberia’s rural small-scale farmers in the growth of food and fruit crops farming as well as related agri-business to alleviate rural unemployment”
Their Goals are:
- To encourage and improve the production of vegetable and fruits in rural communities.
- To give greater access to larger marketing opportunities to the small-scale farmers.
- To serve as a notable domestic vegetable and fruit crops farming production.
The Liberian Agricultural Project has purchased 20 acres of farming land and currently has 13 employees. John is paying them with donations, which also helps with purchases of tools, seeds and fertilizer for use on the farm. As the founder, he is also giving to the organization every month.
Read more about the funding resources for this program here.
Above information is from the Liberian Agricultural Project
John Paye (far right) has made it his mission to assist the residents of Bong County in their efforts to move towards agricultural sustainability. The man in the center is the project leader/builder.
Photos below depict:
- The road that was built to access the farm property.
- The building that will house offices and will act as a residence for John on his return visits to Liberia.
“The first phase of the project started in January 2019 on 20 acres of land. The organization planted food crops such as okra, eggplant, peppers, bitter-ball and tomatoes. In 2020, the organization is going to increase the farming to 100 acres and the plan is to plant fruit crops such as one year seasonality crops like bananas, plantains and pineapple. Liberian Agricultural Projects four year growth plan includes expanding its farming activity in 2021 to a large farm size of 1420 acre in the Zota district before extending its farming activity to the Panta district in 2022”.
-Liberian Agricultural Project Brochure
- Farmers hard at work harvesting produce in the field.
- Some of the fruits and vegetables that are grown in this region.
The economic challenges that accompany a plan of this magnitude are multifaceted. They include the difficulty in meeting the financial obligations that come with providing compensation, technical support and training for the employees. There are additional hardships in regards to purchasing harvesting equipment and securing a way to preserve the produce during the time it takes to transport the bounty to nearby alternative markets to be sold.
“Liberia’s subsistence farming makes it hard for Liberians to compete on the market with cheaper food imports, and agriculture has suffered as a result of the 2014 Ebola outbreak and prolonged civil crises.
And, despite a high degree of involvement by the local population in agriculture, the sector’s productivity remains low: little technology and poor pest management, combined with the extremely limited use of fertilizer and other modern cultivation methods, are some of the factors responsible for this. Other factors include the lack of good quality farm inputs, high pre- and post-harvest losses, and the lack of incentives to produce food beyond subsistence level, given that marketing is difficult because of poor road networks and high transport costs”
~ The World Bank Website
We are a connected universe, now more than ever. The efforts that we put into motion here at home can make a considerable difference not only in our own communities, but internationally as well. The pursuit of agricultural sustainability can take different forms depending on where in the world we reside, but the desired outcome is the same. We all want and deserve good, healthy ingredients. Proper nutrition should be a right, not a privilege and the desire to create a self sustaining agri-business in order to meet those needs should be championed.
To live a sustainable life means to retain the ability to meet our immediate needs as well as those of our community without jeopardizing the capability to do so for future generations. The desire for wellness and independence is a common thread. It is important to remember that we have the ability to lift others from afar. How we start is up to us, but it’s absolutely crucial that we do. Our call to action is to get to know and support the farmers and sustainability projects in our region. This will strengthen their success, thus allowing them to elevate others. Because the leaders at HAFA were willing to share their expertise, they were able to assist a farm in Liberia in becoming a reality.
All photo credit goes to John Paye.
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