CHANGING LIBERIA ONE FARMER AT A TIME
Liberia Farmer to Farmer Mission
The mission of the Liberia Farmer to Farmer Ministry is to assist the people of Harrisburg, Liberia, to enhance their sustainable farming productivity by using technology and mechanization and to provide education, training, and basic skills to the community.
Liberia Farmer to Farmer Vision
While working through the Churches of the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church and a range of supporters, in partnership with the St. John United Methodist Church-St. Paul River District of the Liberia Annual Conference United Methodist Church, the Liberia Farmer to Farmer Ministry, will support the congregation and community’s spiritual and economic development.
Liberia, also known as the Republic of Liberia, is a country along the coast of western Africa. Liberia was founded by free people of color from the United States.
History of Liberia
Liberia is the second-oldest country in Africa and the oldest independent republic on the continent. The first people arrived in Liberia as early as 10,000 years ago and were probably hunter-gatherers. At some point, these people were joined by agriculturalists who established permanent settlements along the coast. Today, Liberia is home to several ethnic groups and languages, with each group having its own history and culture. However, the nation’s history can be broadly divided into four periods: * Pre-colonial * The Liberian Republic * The First and Second Civil Wars, * Post-war Reconstruction.
Liberian independence was proclaimed in 1847, and its boundaries were expanded. The country enjoyed relative stability until a rebellion in 1989 escalated into a destructive civil war in the 1990s that did not fully cease until 2003. The country’s first post-conflict elections, held in 2005, were noteworthy for the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the presidency, as she was the first woman to be elected head of state in Africa.
Agriculture in Liberia
Farmers in Liberia are primarily engaged in subsistence farming, meaning they grow crops to feed themselves and their families. Liberia is a tropical country with rich soil and a long growing season, so it is well suited for farming. However, many farmers have struggled to access tools, equipment, and other resources that would help them to produce more food than they can consume themselves. Even before the Ebola outbreak of 2014, Liberia had one of the highest rates of malnutrition globally, which was largely due to poverty and poor access to food. The Ebola virus decimated Liberia’s already struggling agricultural sector by killing thousands of farmers and disrupting trade routes.
Agriculture is the leading sector of the economy. About half the land area is suitable for cultivation, though a small percentage is actually cultivated. Foreigners often operate commercial farms. Traditional farmers practice mixed cultivation of rice, cassava, and vegetables. They also raise goats, sheep, chickens, and ducks.
The Power of an Idea
So why is there a Liberia Farmer to Farmer Ministry located in Harrisburg, Liberia?
Harrisburg in Montserrado County is a town located in Liberia about 15 mi (or 25 km) northeast of Monrovia, the country’s capital.
Liberia Farmer to Farmer Ministry History
The Liberia Farmer to Farmer Ministry seed was planted years ago when Pryde Bass, born and reared in Harrisburg, Liberia, West Africa, emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, the USA, in 1965. Pryde had been burdened for 40-plus years about returning to his native Liberia to give many Liberians hope and a new way of life. He reasoned that farming was the perfect opportunity.
Little did he know that a divinely inspired encounter in 2010 with Rev. Ray Ake, a pastor in the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, would be the fodder for planting the seed and starting the first fruits of this ever-evolving ministry. The ministry has expanded from farming to include a variety of projects that help improve the lives of the people of Harrisburg.
A Liberia Farmer to Farmer Ministry Committee emerged as part of the East Ohio Conference 3Cs Initiative that supported Churches, Classrooms, and Clinics. The committee has expanded and is now part of the East Ohio Volunteers in Mission. Several mission teams have traveled to Harrisburg to engage in a range of mission activities.