HISTORUCAL BACKGROUNDPrior to and amidst the hosting of the pending July 26 celebrations in Lofa County, it is understandably accepted that the political sub-division has had agriculture production as its major core, without which the vast majority would continue to invite the dependency syndrome that it has often discouraged.
Whilst the prolonged civil crisis in Liberia may have adversely affected most parts of the political sub-division, its people have continued to unceasingly remain in the sector, having over many decades earned the experiences of mechanized and modern farmers that continues to witness its landscape industrially rich, apart from sharing borders with the sisterly republic of Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Grossly affected by events of the past civil crisis and notwithstanding producing a Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai, the very hardworking people of Foya District have never waivered at remaining quite persistent at their normal chore, discouraging distractions that tend to invite disunity and other chaotic events, but rather choosing the remain the center of food security.
Thus, with cessation of hostilities throughout the country through efforts of international partners, particularly the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in recent decade, the population of Foya District have since returned to food production activities aside rice, this time around, to encourage farmers in the country to other vital areas.
In pursuit of these objectives and with the Intofawor Farmers Cooperative Society remaining the single-largest in Lofa County, gaining strength from the number of agricultural activities that had been introduced in the area, principally involving the Liberia Agricultural Land Development and Mechanization Corporation (AGRIMECO), an Israeli-managed under the direction of Mr. Amram BenZvi as General Manager which first introduced mechanization in most towns and villages in the area, coupled with technical support of the Ministry of Agriculture through its late and able Director in Foya Airfield, (long-time known as Foya Kama), Mr. Moses D. Elliott, who later became Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Research and Extension during the 1980s, the eyes of farmers in the area have since remained wide-open.
Against the backdrop of the introduction of a reforestation program in Foya by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) during the 1980s, preceded by the planting of oil palm in which the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) played a major part to the credit of the current Vice President of Liberia who then respectively served as Voinjama Estate Manager, Managing Director of the LPMC and Agriculture Minister, much can today be seen in the area of the political sub-division with pride.
Even following the many years of debacle but with determination to preserve the productive sector of Foya, food security constitutes the major involvement of majority of its citizens, in spite the establishment of the ADA/LAP that has in recent weeks been temporarily shut down in the area due to the severing of ties by Liberia with Libya and rendering more than 500 employees redundant, leaving 50 of its personnel to be currently maintained on the basis of sacrifices in securing the premises of the establishment and its highly expensive John Deere equipment that include combine harvester, excavator and tractors.
Mr. Henry T. Foryoe, General Manager of the Intofawor Farmers Cooperative Society, briefly chatting with the In Profile Daily in Foya Kama, following several hours of monthly coordination meeting, revealed that the farmers cooperative is currently engaged in the cultivation of some 200 acres for high-yielding rice, a dam valued at US$26,000, a cattle ranch, as well as processing rice for sale to the World Food Programme (WFP) for its school feeding project.
Specifically, the cattle grazing project begun proves to be another source for boosting the national economy, situated in an area called Willielu that also contains a 10,000 acres oil palm project capable of buttressing the national efforts at economic revitalization.
Whislt he decried the unavailability of trusted buyers of cocoa in the area, leaving farmers bewildered during the harvesting season, it is at all not strange while cross-border trade of the commodity through middleman must come into play, though Liberia truly needs it but cannot momentarily infuse the much-needed capital required by the LPMC in fully reactivating the process.
Simply put and not truly dwelling on the dedication of the several projects embarked upon as those intended for dedication during the Independence Day celebrations in Lofa County, particularly the Intofawor Farmers Swampland Rice Revitalization Project that is funded by the United States African Development Foundation (USAF), since they remain ongoing and has the potential for sustainability, the cattle grazing project, with 150 acres provided and now planted with grass from Texas, establishment of the Makona River University in the future within its proximity would only help students attending thereat to take full advantage of studies in agriculture.
With its two warehousing units backed by the WFP, coupled with a rice processing plant underway, Intofawor Cooperative Society will certainly remain a formidable force in ensuring food security in Liberia, lest forgetting its present involvement in the multiplication of Nerica-19 not only for consumption but distribution to its thousands of farmers in Foya District.