Sharing the Economic Benefits of Urban Agriculture
An increasing number of residents in Monrovia and its suburbs are involved in urban farming for income generation and food security.
Urban and peri-urban farming is the growing of crops and raising of animals within and around cities. It also involves the production of inputs, processing, marketing, and the provision of services to agricultural producers and agro-entrepreneurs.
In terms of contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (often neglected by statistics on small scale households), farmers make up the majority of rural and urban citizens in our country. Urban farming has been practiced in Monrovia and other cities long before the civil war but grew its importance during and after it.
The Government of Liberia launched its urban and peri-urban farming program in 2011 to create jobs for the urban poor and to increase food production, especially in cities.
There are many jobless people in Liberia who lack the initiative to take employment in the farming sector for economic empowerment.
For me, realizing the skills I acquired in general agriculture from the Tumutu Agricultural Training Program, I returned to Monrovia in 2011 and began a garden project in my community in GSA Road, Paynesville, on a small plot of swamp land. On this plot of land, I plant different kinds of vegetables every year for additional income. Although I write on farming issues, my passion for agriculture is so overwhelming that I see it as a responsibility not only to write but to grow food for my family and the community.
I wake up every morning to visit my crops and do some work if needed before taking up other tasks. This year’s planting season, I am growing cabbage, collard greens, watermelons, water greens, peppers, bitter balls, eggplant and potato greens.
How am I benefitting from urban farming?
Urban farming is greatly benefitting my family and the community where I live. In the 2011 farming season I mostly grew okra that was harvested and the funds used to acquire skills in computer.
I used the proceeds from my garden to get money into the pockets of my kids daily for school and to solve other household problems. More importantly, the garden is used to enhance nutrition in my home. Vegetable crops like cabbage, lettuce, and okra are nutritious.
There are other farmers in Monrovia who are using funds from their gardens to pay hospital bills and school fees.
What are the constraints facing urban farmers?
Despite government’s interest in urban farming to reduza a lot of challenges. Some of the challenges include lack of access to land, unclear land tenure policy, the lack of skills of many urban farmers, unfavorable market climate and the lack of storage and processing facilities.
This year’s farming season, I could not organize residents of my community to engage into gardening because of the lack of support. The Ministry of Agriculture needs to rejuvenate its urban farming program so that many of us will ge/Users/layouteditor/Desktop/SHUBU/January 2017/12-Jan/WEB/Working on my nursery planted with cabbage and collard greens..jpgt support to grow more crops in our communities