The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with Liberia's Ministry of Agriculture, this week launched a project to distribute vegetable and short cycle crop production kits to 86 Ivorian refugee households at the Bahn refugee camp in Nimba County. The crop production kits compriseassorted tools, fertilizers and seeds (corn, okra, collards and cabbage). 300-400 Ivorian refugees are expected to benefit from this project.
According to a joint Ministry of Agriculture/FAO Rapid Food Security Assessment conducted in Nimba County in February 2011, the majority of Ivorian refugees have some experience in agriculture in Cote d'Ivoire. Until now, however, Ivorian refugee farmers have largely depended on support from host families or from food aid distributions at the camp.
The distribution of agricultural inputs under the FAO project will promote self-reliance by allowing these farmers to produce food for themselves and their families, as well as sell surplus production in local markets as a means of income generation.
Jan Aba (40) arrived at the Liberian border town of Loguatuo with his wife and child in December 2010. They were among the first families to be voluntarily relocated to the Bahn Camp in January 2011. During this time, the family first depended on the host family for food, and later on food assistance provided by the World Food Programme at the Bahn Camp. Jan is thrilled with his crop production kit.
"This has been one of the most valuable things I received since we arrived in Liberia. I can now grow my own food and supplement food assistance we receive at the camp, ensuring a balanced diet for my family. I plan to sell the extra crops I harvest, and buy new seeds, so that I can continue feeding my family for as long as we have to stay in Liberia," says Jan.
The FAO project also aims to strengthen community links by encouraging beneficiaries from various ethnic and local backgrounds to team up in groups, working on sites within and adjacent to the camp. Sites are being identified in cooperation with the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), as well as local and international partners. FAO, together with the organisation's local partner, the Special Emergency Relief for Elders (SERE), will provide extensive training and guidance to beneficiaries. Agricultural inputs for the Bahn camp were provided from FAO's contingency stocks.
FAO is also preparing to distribute rice seeds, tools, fertilizers, and mechanical pest management supplies to 2,600 host families and vulnerable households in villages close to the border in Nimba County, where refugees are also presently accommodated.
The organisation has appealed for additional funding to enable it to provide similar assistance to a larger number of refugees and host families in Bahn, as well as to Liberian host communities.
For more information please contact:
Mr Syed Abdul Razak
FAO Emergency Programme Officer
Tel: +231 (0) 678 4780