“My community has one public school, which is overcrowded. Children walk several hours to get to school. Even though the community hosts the hydroelectric power plant and the water treatment plant for the Monrovia metropolitan area, the community does not have purified water nor electricity services.”
Mary is all too familiar with these problems in the White Plains community that survives by subsistence farming. As field supervisor at UMRADP farm, she is responsible for planning and supervising all field activities.
Rural and semi-rural communities across Liberia are primarily uneducated and poor; they practice the traditional farming method of shifting cultivation. Infrastructural problems also exist, such as a shortage of roads to market, poor health, and inadequate schools. The community remains vulnerable to epidemics, rapid soil degradation, and low productivity; 70—80 percent of the people are food insecure.
Mary faces many challenges in her work, the foremost being UMRADP’s charge to rehabilitate its largely dormant agricultural activities. She hopes that ARI will train her in organic fertilizer and insecticides as well as causes and possible eradication of plant disease. She also wants to learn about leadership, rural development, and sustainable farming, focusing on how to produce her own livestock feed, and producing her own organic fertilizers.
UMRADP has had ties with ARI since the 1970s. It aims to revitalize livestock support, increase food crop production, expand its forestry project, and train and nurture smallholder farmers. Their plan is for Mary to implement new techniques for organic farming and improve agricultural productivity and income generation in the community.