BUMPER HARVEST FROM SLARI’S EU FUNDED COVID-19 EMERGENCY RESPONSE FARM IN BAI-LARGO VILLAGE
On 30th November 2020, farmers in Bai-Largo village and Njala community, Kori chiefdom in the Moyamba District, southern Sierra Leone made a bumper harvest of 300Kg (2-Hectares) of rice, sweet Orange flesh Potato, and high breed maize. They have experienced an increase in yields with the support from the European Union.
One of the beneficiaries from Njala, Madam Kadiatu Kosseh, said Covid-19 has done so much in their lives through the support given to them as local farmers in the Moyamba district. She said, with the help of Dr. Isata Kamanda who identified them as farmers to benefit from the EU funding, they received chickens, groundnuts, Yellow flesh cassava, Orange flesh potato, maize, cowpea and rice from the specific seeds recommended in the EU project. She further explained that the intervention of the EU-Funded COVID-19 Project has actually minimized some of the challenges they have faced as farmers in Moyamba District. She confirmed that the project has transformed their lives as local farmers with the availability of new improved varieties from SLARI. As a member of their group, she expressed her appreciation to Dr. Isata Kamanda for the effort invested in the day-to-day activities of the project from the start to the harvest stage.
Mr. Francis Pessima, the Chairman of Bai-Largo group said that the Covid-19 pandemic affected them drastically, which lead them to eat all their seeds for this year’s planting season, but the initiation of this project in their chiefdom brought back hope and strength in the lives of farmers in the Bai -Lagor and Njala communities.
Mr. Pessima, however, said that the harvest activities started with 30 bags of groundnut, which to them, was a great achievement. He mentioned that the yield for this year’s harvest was a talk of the day in the entire district. The members in their group were greatly involved in the project from start to end, which landed them to the harvest stage. In his statement, he said that the farmers in Njala and Bai-Lagor were grouped together to implement the Covid-19 Emergency Response project. According to him, the seeds provided to them were well-improved varieties, and this has contributed greatly to their yield. He promised to provide the seeds to other farmers within the district for onward multiplication. He concluded that, though it was very hectic for them because of the late arrival of seeds due to the inter-district lockdowns within the country, they strived as farmers to ensure that the necessary planting activities were undertaken.
Mr. Michael Benya -Senior Farm Manager at N'jala Agricultural Research Centre, said that he has been in charge of supervision of the EU Funded COVID-19 emergency project in the Moyamba district. According to him, they completed the harvesting of groundnut, and now the project is actively engaged in harvesting the yellow flesh cassava, orange flesh sweet potato, rice, maize, and cowpea to follow soon as they are waiting on the right time to start its harvest.
He said they hired the service of a combined harvester to help the farmers in Bai-Largo do all the harvesting in the 2-Hectares mangrove rice farm, which will last for a day. In his statement to the farmers, said that the yields are meant for the farmers and they should distribute them equally among themselves, as this will keep them and their family members on to the next farming season. Though the combine-harvester could not finish the 2 hectares of rice, yet it was able to harvest at least 54 bags of rice at 50 kg per bag.
The EU funded Project Coordinator and Plant Breeder Research Scientist at SLARI, Dr. Isata Kamanda was on the phone with the Communications Officer Mr. Moses Sahr Fayiah as she expressed her happiness to the farmers for making this project a success. She stressed on the importance of the first set of harvest, as all of the harvested produce will be distributed to the EU-Funded beneficiaries.
She informed the communications team that her team from SLARI approached Bai-Largo village to inform them about the EU funded project. Dr. Isata further confirmed to us that; the farmers were hardworking and have shown much commitment, especially the single parent mothers who were actively engaged on farming to provide food for their families.
Dr. Kamanda said the yield that she has seen in this EU funded COVID-19 emergency response farm is outstanding. The result from the harvest has shown that with improved varieties, farmers will have advanced and plenty yield more than the normal local farmers do. She went on to say that the bumper harvest is a clear demonstration that these improved varieties will improve the lives of the farmers, enhance their income and provide farmers access to improved materials for the next planting season. She confirmed to the team that the across the seven selected districts for this EU funded COVID-19 emergency response farms projects, have completed harvesting their groundnut crops and have expressed satisfaction over high yields as the 150 selected farmers were fully supported during the entire process.
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