Liberia: "Back to the soil" awareness campaign launched

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The Ministry of Agriculture and its partners on Saturday June 27, 2009 commenced a nation-wide awareness and sensitization campaign as a way of encouraging Liberians to engage in farming activities. The program was held simultaneously in all 15 counties of the country.

As part of the awareness in Monrovia , farmers, students, youth groups, women and civil society organizations, musical artists, government officials, members of the private sector and even ordinary men and women took part in a street parade commencing from Capitol Bye-pass to Ashmun Street where an official program was held.

During the official program, the proxy of the Vice President, His Excellency Joseph Boakai, Mr. John Aphonso Perkins, pledged government's support to enhancing self-sufficiency in food production and called on Liberians to go back to the soil and grow more food.

He said agriculture is an important element in the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) because it provides employment and income for many.

Acting Agriculture Minister, Borkai Sirleaf called on Liberians to maximize the use of the soil, for as he puts it, "farming can put food on your table and money in your pocket".

He said the Government will continue to provide high yielding rice and vegetable seeds as well farming implements so that farmers can grow enough food to feed the nation.

Also speaking, Mr. Andrea Tagmanini, Head of UNMIL Recovery program, outlined the significant contributions being made by his organization beyond its peacekeeping mandate.

He sated that United Nations System is supporting the Government of Liberia in its economic recovery program through various spheres of development, including agriculture and food security.

In addition to the festivities, retired Greek-based football celebrity, Kelvin Sebwe who also played for the Lone Star, added his voice to call on Liberians to engage in farming.

He was gowned and presented with sample farming tools by the Chairman of the National Traditional Council of Liberia, Chief Zanzar Kawor as an encouragement with a view that he, Kelvin, can undertake farming as an alternative source of income and sustainable livelihood.

The program was marked by musical jamboree comprising young Liberian artists who thrilled the crowed with melodious songs.

Schools within Montserrado County that participated in the School Garden Contest received prizes based on criteria set by the Ministry of Education.

The Executive Director of Crusaders for Peace, Ambassador Juli Endee spearheaded the awareness and sensitization program, which runs till the end of October 2009.

The Ministry of Agriculture supported by the United Nations Mission in Liberia , (UNMIL), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), Cellcom Communications and Chico organized the program.

On June 19, 2008, the President of Liberia, Her Excellency, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf launched the "Back to the Soil" Sensitization Program at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville.