President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, was on hand to commemorate the Liberia’s first National SRI Field Day, kicking off a three-day harvest celebration of SRI-produced Nerica L-19 rice at the Community of Hope Agricultural Project’s (CHAP) farm located on the outskirts of Monrovia. Speaking to the crowd, President Johnson-Sirleaf, herself a farmer, stressed the importance of farmers to the nation’s food security, and praised both CHAP’s work and the SRI methodology.
CHAP’s President, Robert Bimba, was also on hand to lead the events, meet with the President, and guide the delegation on a tour of the site. Robert Bimba and CHAP have been instrumental in the introduction and spread of SRI in Liberia, having conducted the first national SRI training in December, with participants coming from every county in the country.
As the National Facilitator (NF) for SRI activities in Liberia under the WAAPP, Bimba has an important role to play in boosting the country’s rice production, and is setting the bar high for his peers in other countries. Even though Liberia was originally considered in the third–or least established–group of SRI practicing countries in the region, his work with CHAP is quickly changing this.
During the field day, enthusiasm and support for CHAP’s work was abundant, coming not only from President Johnson-Sirleaf, but also from Dr. Florence Chenoweth, Liberia’s Agriculture Minister, Henry B. Fahnbulleh, Montserrado County District No. 4 Representative, and a representative of the WAAPP.
The President lauded CHAP for following through on its vision, saying “CHAP has been doing this year after year, so let’s commend them for that.” Similar praise came from Dr. Chenoweth, who said that while CHAP and their collaboration with the Ministry have been a notable success, but cautioned that more still needs to be done.
Local government officials, such as Representative Fahnbulleh, pledged their support for creating a favorable policy climate for innovative agriculture like the kind practiced—and taught—by CHAP.
According to a story published by Liberian news agency FrontPageAfrica:
“A representative of the West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP) assured CHAP of its support in all endeavors, saying, ‘Our intervention in Grand Gedeh and River Gee is not the end. We will support you in the western region, the eastern region and all of our counties of intervention.’
“WAAPP said it has a responsibility to provide leadership in areas where people’s lives will be enhanced and improved and agriculture is the surest way to ensure the stability of the country in food production.”