IMPROVING THE UNIVERSAL “RIGHT TO LIFE” ON FOOD SECURITY
The “right to life,” is one of the most crucial fundamental universal human rights, of which food security forms an integral part. Liberia, a country in sub Saharan Africa, with approximately 5 million people cannot feed her population, even with its staple food, rice; even though it has vast arable land right across the country.
The past 14 years of war, coupled with the sudden Ebola epidemic invasion of 2013/14 came to compound an already devastated economy and food insecurity, as a result of massive unchecked corruption in the governance and public sectors especially, and poverty.With over 75% of Liberians living on less than U.S. $ 1.5 a day, and with a high rate of unemployment and low salaries and wages, most Liberians cannot adequately feed.
Over reliance on the extractive industry over a consi9derable period, (even before the past 14 years war, till now,) has made the need for diversification of the economy of low priority. However, the plummeting of the prices of rubber, oil and some other imported goods have forced the government and nation to definitely see the need to do so, and with mechanized agro-industrial expansion, as a priority area to pursue. This is yet, to be seen, to be done, by the current government, which clichéd power on the platform of seeking popular interest and with a “pro-poor” government agenda.
Therefore, the government needs to invest more extensively in mechanized agriculture and encourage all its international partners to aid in bringing national food security. Maternal, infant and under five mortality rates could be greatly curtailed by improving our level of food security. Donor aid could be very invaluable towards urban-rural farming ventures geared towards improving food security.
Food insecurity leads to life insecurity, societal instability/insecurity, and passive repression of the ordinary people, who mostly bear the brunt of national food insecurity. And do further note that “a hungry mob is an angry mob” – the very masses the politicians purport to be poised to liberate from poverty, and empower to personal and general prosperity.
One of the major “artificial” causes of food insecurity and price hikes in Liberia is the “monopolization and manipulation” of the so-called “free market economy.” In which, where there are, for instance, over ten capable Liberian and foreign businessmen and/or businesses that could comfortably import rice, (and other high consumable foodstuffs,) successive governments and their colluding unscrupulous relevant public servants in the Commerce ministry especially, have restricted the importation of rice and other food stuffs, (as they do other commodities too,) to very limited individuals and businessmen, for their own ulterior reasons and gain, and at the detriment of the majority of the masses, who cannot afford the unreasonable and sinister artificially astronomical prices of these mostly imported commodities.
Therefore, there is the urgent need to truly regulate the commerce industry and put in place a truly “open free market system” that would help to flood the market with rice and other high consumer goods, thereby naturally helping to regulate the price of goods, much in the interest of the common man, while ensuring reasonable profit to businessmen and businesses.
There is also the urgent need for international partners to pressurize government towards regulating the commerce industry and putting in place a truly “open free market system,” void of manipulation and monopolization of importation.
Since it is also noted that there is much wastage of food in the West, I would like to appeal that some of those food items that are legally valid and meet global standard regulations be donated to Liberia, to help augment our food security capacity. Good and sound health, individual and herd immunity mostly depend on our regularly feeding habits. Therefore, a good feeding habit breeds a good healthy living.
In Liberia, a huge percentage of still births, maternal and infant mortality could be avoided if most of our pregnant women and children are given adequate and balanced diet every day, especially food containing enough protein and carbohydrate. As we move around in several of our communities we could easily notice children and pregnant women with protein and carbohydrate deficiency diseases, which could be prevented, by simply feeding adequately with meat, fish, rice and other foods rich in protein and carbohydrate.
One major area of agricultural investment that I would like to project to you, to help support, is, “the improved rearing of local chicks and ducklings.” Our local chickens and ducks are very adaptable and resilient to our local communities, and as such, could grow very fast and become very productive if given standard/modern balanced feed and kept in very hygienic and spacious poultry; as well as reared under standard conditions. The cross breeding of both male and female ducks and chickens separately/respectively could produce huge amounts of chicks/ducklings and their respective eggs that will greatly improve our food security capacity in Liberia. This could be a very viable and relatively cost effective source of protein in all our communities.
Commencing with 25 separate poultries in 10 rural-outskirt communities around Monrovia, Montserrado County, I intend to use 800 hens and ducks to produce at least an average of 4000 chicks and ducklings quarterly; amounting to 16, 000 chicks and ducklings every year.
This project would therefore require acquiring or leasing land in each of the 10 identified communities, and then constructing 10 poultry outfits that would have adequate ventilation that will be standard, safe and secure; with all feeding accessories and feed.
At least 2 agricultural/poultry experts would be contracted to oversee the feeds and water components of all the poultries; who would work along with 2 veterinary contractors to ensure sound health and productivity in the 10 poultry outlets.
All of these poultries would be electrified, if possible with security alarm systems and 1(one) night security guard for each poultry outfit.
At least 1(one) knowledgeable agricultural/poultry attendant (given available funds,) would be contracted for each poultry outfit, who will be responsible for the daily general running of the poultries to ensure smooth and efficient productivity. This worker would be responsible to identify and separate sick and dead chickens/ducks from the healthy ones, in order to avoid transference of bird flues and diseases.
These first 10 poultry outfits would serve as pilot and experimental projects for the future expansion of the poultries to other communities in Montserrado County and beyond, as well as the possible exploration into piggery, sheep and goat rearing (livestock), etc, given the needed expertise, manpower and funding.
In resume, I would like to propound that the attainment of national food security in Liberia, given our vast arable land, viable domestic bird and livestock resources and collections is very possible, realistic and easily reachable, with the necessary political will, local participation and international support.
In fact, Liberia, (as many countries in West, South and East Africa,) is capable of not only adequately feeding herself, but being a viable “bread basket” in Africa and the world over. With the needed financial and material support given to agricultural expansion and the agro-industry, in the next ten years, Liberia will not just be capable of adequately feeding herself, but would realize enormous revenue from agricultural exportation.