Liberians Are Hungry: Why and What Must Be Done?

first_imgFor several years now this newspaper, the Daily Observer, has been calling  the attention of the Agriculture Ministry, the Liberian government and people to the poor state of agriculture in this country so rich in fertile land and rainfall.But the more we have written, the more not only we, but the problem itself, have been ignored.The person chiefly responsible for making sure that the nation’s farmers are working successfully and their farms doing well is Agriculture Minister Dr. Florence Chenoweth.  But the more we have written, the more she has been in denial.  She has even dismissed the Daily Observer as nothing more than a “tabloid,” which she says she no longer reads.  But despite her dismissive and unconcerned attitude, we have remained undeterred and have persistently reported that Liberia continues to import most of what we eat, including not only our staple, rice, but even such basic items as pepper, tomato, bitter balls, peanuts and even fruits, most of which are regularly brought in from Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.Now the global organization chiefly concerned with food, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has added its voice to this disturbing,  grave and urgent national crisis.The FAO Country Representative to Liberia, Jean-Alexandre Scaglia, bluntly stated last week that Liberia is hungry, and that she faces a very serious problem of FOOD INSECURITY.Deliberately shunning diplomacy, he backed his statement with a series of grim statistics, which showed that people in all the counties are hungry.  These include the people of LOFA County, historically the nation’s breadbasket.Lofa is food insecure to the extent of a whopping 61.3%! Bong County, the nation’s second breadbasket, is even worse, 64.6%; while Sinoe, like other southeastern counties, is even harder hit, 65.1%.  Grand Bassa’s is 60.8%, while Agriculture Minister Chenoweth’s own home, Grand Cape Mount County, is a staggering 78.8% food insecure!Montserrado County, where the  Agriculture Ministry sits, stands at 67%. Nimba, another important food producer, stands at 41.5% insecure and Margibi at 63.2%.We have constantly complained of the absence of agricultural extension agents in most parts of the country.  But here again Agriculture Minister has been in denial.Clearly, the President of Liberia herself seems to have played a deaf ear to the Daily Observer’s consistent and unrelenting reports on the crisis in the nation’s agriculture. Yes, she fired Dr. Chris Toe years ago when it appeared that the rubber sector, especially two of the major plantations, Guthrie in Bomi and Cavalla in Maryland, was being mishandled.  But Dr. Toe’s  successor, Dr. Chenoweth, has been in office for nearly seven or more years and the agriculture sector has continued to flounder.It is simply amazing that people who have been trained at the highest level in agriculture have failed to help their own country in this most critical and vital sector.  WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?There was another PhD Agriculture Minister during the Taylor years–Dr. Roland Massaquoi.  And what did he accomplish?Last week President Sirleaf blamed the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of Liberia for the decline in the value of the Liberian dollar compared to the United States dollar. Unfortunately, she did not mention the woeful lack of productivity in the agriculture sector. Upon what does a  country depend for foreign exchange?  It seems to us that the primary reason for the Liberian dollar’s decline is the US$300 million we spend annually importing rice alone, and even more money on almost all of the other foods we eat, including fruits, meat and vegetables.  And what do we produce on the farm for export?Nothing, especially since the world rubber price has drastically dropped.As we recently suggested editorially, we need to   reinvigorate the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) and empower it to work directly with the farmers toward increasing agricultural production. Ambassador Charles A. Minor and Vice President Joseph Boakai, who both ran LPMC, are around to advise on this.The President must pay very serious attention to   agriculture and determine what must be done to improve the sector.  Her people are hungry and this should be to her a matter of extreme urgency.  The GOL, including the Central Agricultural Research Institute, must also empower the agricultural cooperatives to work with farmers to grow more food.The President must do some drastic to arrest the nation’s agricultural decline, which threatens not only food security but security in general.   Remember April 14?  Florence Chenoweth most certainly does.She was Agriculture Minister then, too.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAMS SENDS OUT ITS OWN SOS – FOR NEW MEMBERS

first_imgDMRT carry out a rescue at Horn Head.Donegal Mountain Rescue Team are a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year voluntary emergency response team providing emergency search and rescue response in extreme terrain and mountain conditions throughout the entire county.Due to the significant increase in the number of callouts experienced in the last two years the team are now seeking to recruit enthusiastic individuals interested in working as part of the team to achieve high standards of casualty care in the Donegal’s mountains.The commitment We are seeking people with a strong interest in mountaineering activities, a high level of commitment, be reasonably fit, possess hill walking / climbing experience, navigation and hill skills as well as a commitment to participating in regular team training and callouts.Recruitment to the emergency response team is open to people over 18 years of age living within one hour of the county’s mountainous areas.It takes approx 1-2 years to progress from being a probationary member to qualifying as a full operational member. The Donegal Mountain Rescue training programme covers four core areas namely, mountain operations, search and rescue operations, casualty care, and operations co-ordination. We would also be interested in hearing from members of the public that may be interested in assisting us with the various other duties involved in running a voluntary mountain emergency response team including organising fundraising days and events, general administration, vehicle maintenance etc.The rewardMountain rescue is a rich cauldron of activities encompassing specialised training, rescue missions, fundraising, sometimes mundane committee duties and even TV appearances for various Rescue programmes.It’s sometimes wet, sometimes dry, sometimes stretched, sometimes a muscle acher, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes tired but always lively and fulfilling.More than anything else, it is deeply rewarding when the mission is over and the casualty is safely recovered and reunited with his friends or family. On those occasions the ensuing smiles and tears are makes it all so very worthwhile to be an Active Responder with Donegal Mountain Rescue Team.You can see here, or on the net, some pictures of the team in action and we can guarantee you we’ll show you corners of Donegal that will take your breath away as below! For more information www.donegalmrt.ie and for an application pack please send an e-mail to secretary@donegalmrt.ie, keep up to date with us on Facebook www.facebook.com/DonegalMRT.Closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 11 October 2013.DMRT’s Joseph Brennan looks for the perfect Christmas card scene during training.MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAMS SENDS OUT ITS OWN SOS – FOR NEW MEMBERS was last modified: September 24th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegal mountain rescue teamnew recruitslast_img read more