Ebola Affects Farm Yields in Bong

first_imgGarmai Tokpah harvesting her rice in Taylor Town, Ebola affected communityThe Ebola outbreak in Liberia has disrupted agricultural activities and threatened food security affecting the livelihood of many people in Bong County.Bong, which is considered one of the food producing counties in Liberia, is experiencing a huge decline in food production for the local markets as a result of the Ebola virus in the county.During an assessment conducted by the Daily Observer last weekend in communities that were greatly affected by the Ebola disease, it was observed that inhabitants in those communities including areas that were not quarantined have cut down their regular diet due to food insecurity.In Gbarnga City, this paper also established that some residents have reduced their regular diet as the result of low supply of locally produced foods on the market.It was confirmed by this reporter that farmers in Ebola affected communities have had their farming activities considerably disrupted by the Ebola outbreak resulting in a significant slump in rice production.“I am finding it extremely difficult to provide food for my family. My family has to starve the whole day just to save a bit of food for the day” said Lorpu-Kollie Tokpa, a farmer in Barlakerthela, one of the hardest hit Ebola communities in the county.It was also noticed by this paper that farmers who produce cocoa complained of their commodity rotting because cocoa buyers are frightened to risk going into Ebola-affected communities to purchase their crop.“Many migrant workers, who normally help with harvesting our cocoa have slowed down their activities for fear of contracting the disease. I used to harvest my produce up to 75 bags but now 20 bags are difficult to yield,” Mr. David Kermue a cocoa farmer in Taylor Town lamented.It was observed by this reporter that closed markets and interruption in trade as well as the restriction on the movement of people have led to acute shortages of food in many communities in Bong County, particularly those communities that are affected by the Ebola virus disease.Our survey revealed that land that was cleared for farming was not planted due to the Ebola outbreak in the country and many farmers had to migrate compelling them to abandon their farms.  This paper was informed that during this harvest season in Liberia many of the farmers who were affected by the virus are terrified to go back to their farms to harvest and are also afraid to take their produce to the local markets because of the low purchasing power of consumers.  The price of imported rice, the country’s staple food, has increased while locally produced commodities decreased in quantity owing to the fact that household incomes have substantially dwindled compelling families to cut down the number of daily meals.According to Stephen Matthews, the Agriculture Commissioner on Communal Farming at the Ministry of Internal Affairs assigned in Bong County, one of the factors responsible for the decrease in food production is government’s pronouncement against people gathering in large groups.   This Ebola preventive measure against large gatherings affects the traditional cooperative system “kuu” which entails farmers grouping together to harvest or work in each other’s fields.    Mr. Matthews told this paper that the county will likely face the threat of severe food shortages because farmers particularly in rural communities that were greatly affected by the Ebola disease are not willing to return to their farms for fear of contracting the virus.“The catastrophes after Ebola will be the calamitous food scarcities, price hikes and food insecurity in this county,” Mr. Matthews warned.Many of the Gbarnga residents who spoke with this newspaper advanced that the international community and the Government of Liberia strengthen strategic institutions such as the hospitals and the agriculture sectors in the post Ebola crisis in order for the country to regain its food production capacity.The citizens maintained that families be provided with food assistance and that GOL promote food security and encourage social development in communities at risk.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

1,500 Rural Trained Teachers’ Hopes Revived, But…

first_imgSince the civil war, over 100 public schools in rural Liberia have persistently shown no sign of academic improvement because of the lack of trained teachers.There is a persistent gap in the performance, achievement and results between rural and urban students, except for a few rural schools run by concessions and churches, which are narrowing the gap, according to an ongoing audit of rural education by the Committee on Education and Public Administration of the House of Representatives.A member of the Secretariat of the House Committee, who requested anonymity, told the Daily Observer over the weekend that “the Ministry of Education is yet to develop a targeted and comprehensive strategy to overcome commonly understood learning barriers.  These include the failure to employ qualified teachers, the lack of laboratory and library facilities needed to strengthen the rural workforce and improve the quality of life for rural Liberians.”The source said there are significant gaps in educational attainment as well as in the quality and availability of healthcare between rural and urban communities.  These gaps arise in part because rural areas face several unique challenges in achieving high-quality education and health care.The source further said that in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the USAID Liberia Teacher Training Program is   supporting the Rural Teacher Training Institutes in Zorzor, Kakata and Webbo.  The goal, said the source, is to develop teacher standards, improve curricula, provide teaching and learning resources and, through school-based teacher training, implement Liberia’s national plan to ensure that all children are reading by the end of grade three.The House Committee on Education and Public Administration is also investigating why some of the trained teachers from rural training institutions are yet to be given assignments and placed on payroll amid the so-called search for qualified teachers to be deployed across the country.The Committee is chaired by Rep. Matthew Zarzar and co-chaired by Rep. C. Alex Grant. The members are Representatives Ben Fofana, Edward Forh, Fofi Sahr Biamba, Mariamu Fofana and Christian Chea.The Plenary of the House mandated the Committee last Tuesday, February 3, based on a communication from Rep. Johnson T. Chea of Electoral District 1, River Gee County.According to the River Gee Lawmaker, if trained teachers from reputable institutions of rural training find it difficult to get assignments and placements on Government payroll for the effective development of the children, Liberia cannot boast of any bright future for its rural dwellers.Citing the provision of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, Rep. Chea declared that education is a fundamental right for every child in spite of location, economic background or affiliation, among other things.“We cannot deny our children this right. We need to act not tomorrow, but now as we set the pace in preparing our precious jewels for tomorrow,” the lawmaker asserted in his communication.He maintained that government must take the necessary action to ensure that qualified teachers are hired and placed on Government payroll.The Committee is expected to review and advise plenary on Tuesday, 17 February. The question is, will the Liberian Government employ and deploy those 1,500 trained teachers in rural schools to improve the education sector in the interior?It may be recalled that prior to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), 156 graduates from the Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute (ZRTTI) were awarded pre-service “C” certificates, qualifying them to teach at the primary school level.The Director of the ZRTTI, Dr. Advertus Orea Wright, awarded the certificates along with one of two Peace Corps Volunteers who worked with the institution during the teacher training.The graduates, mostly between the ages of 25 and 35, hailed from Lofa, Bong and Nimba counties.They are the most recent addition to a new cadre of teachers being trained by the Government of Liberia, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to ensure that qualified teachers are placed in classrooms across the country.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Man granted bail for causing death of Melanie woman

first_imgNarsigh Jagsar, of Supply, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara (ECD), was on Thursday released on $300,000 bail after he appeared before Magistrate Peter Hugh in the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court.Jagsar was remanded to prison on March 5, 2018 for causing the death of an elderly woman on the Melanie Public Road.Jagsar was represented by Bernard Da Silva, and is expected to return to court on April 5, 2018.Eighty-seven-year-old Lydia Rodriguez, called “Aunty Baby”, of Lot 51 North Melanie, was struck down around 06:00h, just 15 minutes after she left her home.Reports stated that minibus BKK 6714, which was being driven by Jagsar, was proceeding west along the southern lane of the said road while the pedestrian was standing on the northern side of the road.However, as the minibus approached, Rodriguez began to cross the road from north to south, ending up on the southern lane. As such, she was struck by the vehicle.Rodriguez, who sustained head injuries, was picked up by public-spirited persons in an unconscious state and rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.A breathalyser test conducted on Jagsar showed no trace of alcohol in his system. He was taken into Police custody and was assisting with the investigation.last_img read more