As mandated by Excellency President George Manneh Weah, Sr., the Government of Liberia (GOL) continues its COVID-19 food assistance program to socioeconomically disadvantaged and densely populated communities in the capital, Monrovia to mitigate food insecurity impacts. The UN food assistance agency, World Food Program (WFP), is carrying out the distribution in collaboration with relevant government institutions.
Dishearteningly, Liberia’s COVID-19 confirmed cases continue to increase during the reporting period with at least 11 positive cases recorded daily. The number of new cases soared by 139 from June 7 to June 14, 2020. The accumulative detected cases in Liberia are 498.
Ahead of the reopening of the country’s main international airport and resumption of classes for final year secondary schools’ students to prepare for their exit exams, the GOL continues to intensify COVID-19 prevention campaigns, trainings and messaging among the public.
In spite of the closures of border with neighboring countries, local farmers are now exploring cross-border cultural ties to bring in vital agriculture inputs and tools into the country which are scarce along Liberia’s border towns.
Lack of inputs and tools are causing snail-paced starts of farming, but food prices remain stable in many rural parts as County Agriculture Coordinators report.
The confirmed cases now stand at 498 from 359 as at the last reporting period. Peri-urban Montserrado County, the seat Monrovia, is COVID-19’s hotspot as compared to other 15 counties. It has 423 cases as at June 14.
Recoveries continue to increase amidst daily escalation of positive cases. The number of persons treated and discharged stand at 221 which represents a slight increase from 194 during the period under review.
Margibi, the largest rubber plantation’s host and the 5th populated county –as per the National Census Report –is the second COVID-19 hotbed with 30 confirmed cases. Cassava-rich Bomi County in the western region is now the latest affected county. COVID-19 has not hit three of Liberia’s 15 counties.
Positive COVID-19 cases in counties where most of the population rely on farming and agriculture activities are declining especially in the southeastern region, but the COVID-19 cases in Lofa and Bong, which predominantly live on farming, need to monitoring to prevent the virus spread.
However, the frequent movements of Liberian farmers into neighboring La Cote D’Ivoire in the east; and Guinea, the northern neighbor –using secondary crossing-points to bring in agriculture inputs and tools –pose high risks to our farmers as they could easily get COVID-19 infected. Farmers in Grand Gedeh, Lofa and Maryland Counties are at high risks in cross-border movements.
The World Health Organization’s latest report of June 10 states Guinea’s positive cases are 4,258 while La Cote D’Ivoire is at 3, 995. Liberia has minimal caseloads as compared to those two sisterly Republics.
No report from Agriculture Coordinators about Liberia’s western region farmers’ cross-overs into Sierra Leone for agriculture inputs that shares a river-divided borderline. The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) continues to monitor the situation. Liberia’s positive cases have not reached half of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Sierra Leone that are 1,025 as WHO report says.
Realizing the shortages of inputs [fertilizers, agrochemicals and seeds] and health risks to farmers, the MoA, through two donor-funded projects, STAR-P [World Bank] and IFAD, is restlessly working to accelerate the procurement processes of acquiring those inputs for free distribution to farmers across the country.
The processes are under strict adherence of international and national regulatory guidelines to ensure integrity and transparency.