After years of devastating civil conflict, Liberia is suffering. Three quarters of Liberians live on less than $1 American dollar per day. As prices soar in the wake of the global food crisis, access to food has become increasingly difficult. In response to this crisis, World Renew and their partner ZOA recently established a project to help war-affected families attain income security and food.

The project empowers rural families by building their agricultural skills and knowledge. Work began in July 2008 among Liberia’s most populated counties, Montserrado and Margibi, and will continue there for another three years. Approximately 16, 200 vulnerable families will participate in the program. Enhancing farmers agricultural skills causes an increase in food production, which in turn effects a decrease in poverty.

Workshops are set up in villages through out Montserrado and Margibi. There, World Renew and ZOA support the education of 15, 000 individuals through the Farmer Field Study (FFS) approach. Participants teach each other through group analysis and shared experience. Together they learn which farming practices work best in their local environment. Twelve skilled farmers from the community begin by guiding the education of 750 village facilitators. Then each of these 750 facilitators host a study group of 20, for a total of 15, 000 participants.

Another 1,200 farmers learn business skills that empowers the wider farming community to sell their produce collectively. 12 Farm Field Schools will help the farmers increase their purchasing power by 300 percent. This will help farmers learn not only how to successfully grow crops, but also how to market their product and receive a fair payment.

In order to make this project a success a number of groups are participating with World Renew. The government supports the emphasis on agriculture, publicly mobilizing the population to “go back the soil”, while stabilizing the price of rice. International relief agencies help by providing seeds, tools and fertilizer. ZOA –World Renew’s project partner – continues to support internally displaced persons as they transition from instability to a situation of security and financial independence.
Then there are the direct beneficiaries of the program: families led by women and children who are particularly vulnerable; and the many marginalized youth who grew up in militias and rebel groups and must now transition to a more peaceful way of life. As World Renew helps families and individuals build on their strengths and develop their skills, Liberia is empowered to move closer to peace, restoration, and security.