International Medical Corps showcased its agricultural livelihood activities in Liberia on a national stage that included Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. All 15 counties of Liberia were represented at the National Agricultural Fair, held December 5 and 6, where International Medical Corps exhibited its clinic-based farming activities, which feed and employ 14,500 in Lofa County.
At their stall, International Medical Corps country director, Dr. Shamsul Alam, explained to President Sirleaf the organization’s clinic-based agriculture activities in which organic farming is used to not only create sustainable food sources and jobs, but also to generate funds for 14 health centers from the sale of produce. After learning about the project, President Sirleaf commented, “[The] clinic-based agriculture program is a good International Medical Corps initiative.”
After two decades of civil war, thousands of displaced Liberians returned to their homes to find few job opportunities. As a result, poverty in Liberia is high. Roughly 80 percent of Liberia’s three million people live below the poverty line and 85 percent of its working population is unemployed. Health care services are desperately needed but often inaccessible, as many facilities were destroyed during the war and cannot function without external support. This initiative improves food security, and helps public health facilities function independently.
International Medical Corps works with village health committees to implement the organic farming project in 14 communities throughout Lofa County. To create a sustainable supply of food, International Medical Corps trains the communities how to grow and harvest rice and vegetables organically, without the use of pesticides and chemicals. The project involves different aspects of organic farming, including planting, composting, pest control, and harvesting. International Medical Corps also teaches the communities in business management so food and profits can be used effectively.
The rice and vegetables are divided among workers, allowing them to improve their families’ nutritional health and food security. The profits are then shared 50-50 between the health care clinics and the organic crops so that the business model – and the food supply – can be sustained year after year.
Additional International Medical Corps visitors included other high-profile government officials and United Nations representatives, such as Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Mrs. Ellen Margrethe Loj, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Dr. Chris Toe, Minister of Agriculture, and Mrs. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia.