I was hoping my partner, Neabei Toah who helped me develop this worthy project, would be able to send us a few paragraphs about what’s happening in his country, Liberia, West Afrika. But alas, he has many challenges that make it impossible for him to communicate with me on a regular basis and he has no camera to send us images. The camera and computer are part of the budget for this project and when enough funding is received for those items Neabei will be able to help us better.
Neabei and his family were farmers before the tragic 25 years civil war. They still have the land but all the structures were long ago destroyed as an effect of the war. But with recent advances by the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, they may have the opportunity to return to their farm. They were forced to move to the capital city of Monrovia during the war for lack of a place to live.
Between ¼ and ½ million Liberians died during the war and ALL wild animals and livestock were eaten. The forest we will restore at the University for this project was cut down for firewood, even the precious woods.
Dr. Chenoweth, a world respected human rights expert and Africa Prize winner, is looking to recover farming as a national productive activity now that the war is over. She has the HUGE task of bringing the previous subsistence farm sector (all of Liberia) into the 21st Century. If anyone can do it she can. After the first democratic election 8 years ago the farming comeback is super slow.
When the Ministry of Agriculture first started out they didn’t even have a germ plasm or seed to plant in the Earth and almost no animals lived because after 25 years of war the people ate everything that moved. They re-opened their agricultural research station and it is now almost self-sufficient in seed production.
Strangely the tropical forests in Liberia have created a problem for the agricultural sector because of the diseases and pests in them. Because there haven’t been any agricultural practices during the war years the pests have spread to nearby farms and some invaded deep into the soils.
The population of Liberia is 3.5 million people and women are the traditional farmers. Here’s the problem though…since virtually everyone lived in refugee camps for 20 – 25 years the older women, the farmers, have passed on without passing on their farming knowledge to the younger women. Dr. Chenoweth expresses the vital need for training programs in farming and planting for today’s women.
Our project, “Educational Reforestation in War Torn Liberia” has an all woman planting crew. ALL of funding needed to implement the project will be used to address forestry education, sustainability and climate change adaptation, to replace the small forest at the University biology station that was destroyed during the war and to inspire hope in a people downtrodden and sick from a very long war. Come on everybody...
Let’s Get Planting, Liberia!
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