According to a recent report conducted by the Liberia Food Security Cluster, the negative impact of the Ebola outbreak on household incomes and markets has contributed to food insecurity among about 640,000 people, corresponding to 16 percent of the population and incomes have decreased for one third of the households (35 percent) on average compared to the same period last year (January-March 2014). Since food insecurity in Liberia is affected by low agricultural production, we’re continuing to work with youth-led Agro-Enterprise Service Centers (AESCs) in Lofa, Bong and Margibi counties.
With assistance from June Lavelle – a seasoned enterprise development specialist who has provided technical assistance for the sustainable development of enterprise support organizations in more than thirty countries – the AESC’s are working to become self-sustainable while continuing to provide critical training, technical assistance and land preparation services for farmers’ groups and rural entrepreneurs to start-up or expand their existing rural enterprises.
With our first round of fundraising of $3,250, we were able to send a first tranche of 12,500 packets of vegetable seeds, consisting of 15 different vegetables, and we now are in the process of sending the second tranche of 6,000 packets for the upcoming planting season. All seeds are non-GMO and most are open-pollinated seeds.
In addition to using some of the seeds to plant demonstration farms, our partner AESCs have distributed seeds and provided technical assistance and training on improved agricultural practices and farming as a business to more than 6,000 farmers. To improve efficiency, the AESCs have organized farmers into groups. For example, since March of this year, the Jacob F. Tomei Enterprise Center has organized 3,098 farmers into 96 groups while the Green Coast Agriculture Program which also is working with more than 3,000 farmers in groups, has also organized 25 youth groups with 20 members each to grow vegetables for the first time, using the donated seeds.
This year, we are aiming to raise an additional $8,000 to help the AESCs purchase three-wheeled cargo motorbikes, costing $3,000 each, for transporting farmers’ produce to markets and scales to weigh the cargo. Additionally, funds will be used to cover the cost of shipping video projection equipment to Liberia from Poland. The equipment will be used for training smallholder farmers and rural youth on a range of topics from improved agricultural practices to family planning. Any additional funds will be used to purchase more vegetable seeds.
The thermometer has been increased to $11,500 for these purposes. Thank you so much!
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Thank you for supporting nutrition and livelihood for Liberians.