SEATTLE — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Government of Liberia worked together to hold a seminar to teach Liberian youth how aquaculture can be used to develop the economy and reduce poverty in Liberia.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) and the Government of Liberia (GOL) began a 10-day aquaculture training seminar on June 12th in Grand Bassa County. The seminar focused on how aquaculture can contribute to Liberia’s economic development through youth employment, entrepreneurship, improved nutrition and poverty reduction.
The seminar, entitled “Creating Aquaculture Enterprise for Youth Employment, Poverty Reduction and Food Security,” was organized by the FAO. It also partnered with the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) and the Bureau of National Fisheries (BNF) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). The training was geared towards the FAO objectives to focus on rural sustainability and alleviation of poverty in Liberia.
Aquaculture, otherwise known as fish farming, in Liberia currently supports food security in the state. As food production increases and becomes a priority of the state, households have increased access to food through fish farming. In addition, fish farming supplies the rural counties of the state, including those that are non-coastal. It provides quality fish and contributes to the agricultural GDP, as aquaculture is an independent sector.
Although aquaculture in Liberia is limited, the Bureau of National Fisheries is beginning to expand the aquaculture business. Fish farming usually takes place in small, freshwater ponds. Currently, there are about 1,050 small-scale fish farmers in the state.
The seminar training was imperative to the state, as it focused on developing small business management skills, gender wealth creation opportunities and skills for Liberian youth. As the sector expands, career opportunities in aquaculture are opening up.
Youth unemployment has been a major challenge to the GOL. In 2010, the labor force survey found that 86 percent of the youth was unemployed throughout the country. Much of the unemployed lived in rural areas.
Moreover, the 10-day training seminar focused on the objectives of the U.N. Development Framework. In addition, the seminar contributed to the FAO Country Programing Framework for sustainable agriculture development.
40 participants were involved in the seminar consisting mainly of youths from Grand Bassa and Margibi counties. Other attendees included officials from MYS, aquaculture experts from FAO, BNF and young Liberian entrepreneurs. The participants received information about how to be successful fish farmers and manage hatcheries, as well as learning development strategies within the business. FAO provided $492,000 U.S. dollars for the seminar under its technical cooperation with the GOL.
– Kimber Kraus