AGRICULTURE: A SPRINGBOARD TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT–A MAJOR PILLAR FOR THE JOSEPH NYUMA BOAKAI PRESIDENCY “It’s Time to Roll-Up Our Sleeves”

“By 1980 no imported rice!”

…Stickers boldly displayed on vehicles during the Tolbert Administration read.

Again, it was the major pillar on which  President William R.Tolbert based his administration, and I strongly believe it is still true that to move the nation forward, there’s need to be self-sufficient in food production.

No nation (no people, no civilization), goes into meaningful industry or other areas of development, when it’s people are constantly hungry and looking (or begging) for food. This is a primary concern for any serious leadership, and it must be addressed prior to any forward movement.

Tolbert set out to solve this age-old problem firstly by creating agricultural hubs in Lofa, Bong and Nimba Counties, carrying out experiments at the “Central Agricultural Research Institute” (CARI) in central Liberia.

This is where the famous “LAC-23” rice variety was developed, using Liberian scientists.

It was a very important project, involving Chinese, Israeli and Liberian experts who set to work developing swamps, building dams and irrigation systems, geared towards making cultivation of Liberia’s stable [rice] a practical reality.

Tractors, the “Massey-Ferguson” brand (with all of its implements) were deployed, and a full-scale, mechanized farming was in effect.

The returns were massive: a year-round harvest of high grade rice, including “IR 6,” “IR 5,” the famous “Butter Rice,” among other varieties, were aplenty throughout the country.

Those fields also served as fish ponds, because there was enough water and a right temperature for fish-farming (cultivation).

The nation at the time was on the verge of being self-sufficient in food production, until the coup d’etat took place and threw us back into the Stone Age.

Elsewhere in Gbadien (Nimba) and Kpatawee (Bong), besides Foya (Lofa) mentioned above, full-scale projects were on-going at full-speed ahead.

The objective was to make the nation self-sufficient in rice cultivation, the nation’s staple food.

Fast forward, this dream is still alive with Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai (JNB), as he is still the most  viable presidential hopeful, ready to implement a full-scale,  self-sufficiency in rice production.

JNB intends to solve the country’s age-old problem by following in the footsteps of the 19th President of Liberia, William R.Tolbert, Jr.,–his mentor– to free his country from the shackles of food insecurity, the cycle of insufficiency and nagging hunger to many.

Right now, Liberia annually spends over $200,000,000.00 USD (Two Hundred Million United States Dollars) to import rice into the country.

JNB wants that money to stay in the pockets of the Liberian people, especially its farmers, instead of sending it abroad.

Fortunately, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai was around when these programs were in full swing, and he will take up where they stopped though fraught situations and tough circumstances. Times  have changed, but the issues are perennial (they’re still here with us today).

Those were the days when cooperative societies were bringing profit to the farmers (Kerkula Kpoto could boast of becoming a millionaire from being merely a farmer; not to mention Harry Morris,  and others). Amb Joseph  Nyuma  Boakai  intends to jumpstart the “Federation of Cooperative Societies” of Liberia, which has remained maribund till now.

The Lofa County Agricultural Development Program, the Bong County Agricultural Development Program, and the Nimba County Rural Agricultural Program, were all running well during the much touted “normal days.” They will be resuscitated.

The stable food, rice, was in an abundance; coffee and cocoa were being exported by the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC), at $40,000,000.00 USD (Forty Million United States Dollars), per year during the tenure [of WRT] and when JNB was Managing Director.

Who knows it better, to steer a nation in dire need of such reforms? Who has the experience, the knowhow and the faith, foresight and fortitude? Who stands ready to take the bulls by its horns? Who is the true hero of the poor boy and girl, man and woman?

Undoubtedly, categorically, absolutely, Joseph Nyuma Boakai. He has been around and he knows how to get around.

It was unfortunate that  Liberia’s 19th President couldn’t implement these programs which would have put the nation on a trajectory of self-realization, self-sufficiency and self-production. But God doesn’t make any mistakes. The time is right for the production of the staple food.

We want rice and rights now.

We have another opportunity here to elect a president not only to liberate Liberia from the shackles of mismanagement and hardcore corruption, but to regain the respect and dignity of Liberians to grow and eat their own food.

Tolbert as President was the opportunity that came to Liberia; but it was cut short.The “Green Revolution” (as it was referred to), must come back to the motherland.

Faking agricultural programs is a disservice to our noble people and our beloved country as a whole.

Right now farmers in Lofa cannot sell their produce in Liberia. It is so disheartening that they have to travel into Sierra Leone (some traveling for several miles with tons on their heads weekly). Liberia loses taxes and our citizens their dignity and pride along with it. This, my friends, is terrible!

Again, roads and agriculture go hand-in-hand, and to politicize agriculture  (without any concrete results to show, is fatal), the worst that can happen to any country!

JNB Intends to move into other areas of national development, but the foundation for that must be created, and that basis is agriculture.

All Power to the people.

This is a done deal!

By Atty George K. Saah

 

 

 

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