The workshop is the first ever to be conducted under the European European (EU) – funded Integrated Rice-Fish Farming System (IRFFS) project in the southeast.It brought together 39 household farmers from Maryland, Grand Gedeh, and River Gee Counties.
The training workshop covered aquaculture production, rice production, and integrated rice-fish practices. Facilitators also taught participants the steps involved in land preparation and integrated rice-fish ponds construction.
The recently-ended workshop is one of the activities under the EU-funded DeSIRA Integrated Rice-Fish Farming System (IRFFS) project directed to enhancing household farmers' capacity.
The DeSIRA-IRFFS project's overall objective is to improve food and nutrition security by transforming low-yielding, climate-risky traditional rice-fish production systems into more climate-resilient, high-yielding, resource-use-efficient systems in Liberia.
While speaking to The New Dawn, Hellen Reeves, a resident farmer of Grand Gedeh who made a remark for participating farmers, lauded the European Union's efforts through the DeSIRA-IRFFS project to improve food and nutrition security, and farming conditions.
She further added that the knowledge that farmers have acquired through the training will positively impact their income and livelihood eventually.
“Through the training, we have understood the importance of the integrated rice-fish farming system. From my judgment, this is a profitable farming system because we can make money in many ways. We can make money from rice, fish, and even vegetables. We will act on everything that we were taught so that our lives can improve in the future," she said.
The EU-funded DeSIRA-Integrated Rice-Fish Farming System project is a three-year (2020 - 2023) livelihood development project implemented in Gbarpolu, Margibi, Maryland, Grand Gedeh, and River Gee.
Africa Rice and World Fish are implementing the project in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), and National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).
The country representative of Africa Rice Dr Inoussa Akintayo, said, “This is the first of the many activities that we have planned to conduct in the southeast. And this project was designed to harness the potential here in this part of Liberia.”
"It further intends to show you all how we can increase rice and fish production by making them live together.”
Also, Emmanuel AK Cooper, the acting- County Agriculture coordinator of River Gee, lauded the funder and implementing partners of the DeSIRA-IRFFS project.
He said that the project has the potential to improve the farming conditions of farmers and urged them to make the most of the opportunity at hand.
“I am grateful to the EU, Africa Rice, and other partners on this project. This project is very useful because it contributes to food and nutrition security. Additionally, this project has the potential of reducing the poverty that we are all experiencing. It also reduces the workload,” he said.
Cooper explained that it is hectic to manage the fish pond and rice field separately, but the project has introduced a system that brings the two together.
“So you only do the hard work once – at the beginning, when you are constructing the integrated rice-fish ponds. This is an opportunity that I am urging every one of you to make the most of,” said Cooper.