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See a project in action

 

The challenge: one in three Liberians are undernourished

Rice is very important in Liberia! If you don't eat rice it means you aren't eating.

Garrison Seoh, Liberian rice farmer

Traditionally in Liberia, people farm on dry, hilly 'upland' and rely on seasonal rains to grow their crops. However, in recent years rains have become more erratic, and most upland farmers in Grand Gedeh and River Gee have not been able to harvest enough food to feed themselves. In response, Oxfam started piloting farming in swamps, or low-lying marshland, with fantastic results: 700 farmers have been reached so far helping supply 7,500 people with food.

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Susana Edwards sows rice in her field in Pouh Town, Grand Gedeh county. With Oxfam's support, she has increased her rice production through using irrigation and high-yielding rice seeds.

Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

Transforming marshland to abundant rice paddy

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After years of civil war, families in Liberia are living in extreme poverty. Rice is the staple food here but families don't have the resources to grow it for themselves and most can't afford to buy it either. For many people, every day is a struggle to feed their children. Oxfam's swamp farming project could change everything.

1  After clearing the swampland, all the waste needs to be removed or burned. It's a tough job in the blistering heat. 2 The land then needs to be ploughed. It's demanding work but with your help, Oxfam will provide more communities with labour-saving power tillers. 3 A small part of the land can now be set up as a nursery for high-yielding rice seedlings.
           
4 Irrigation channels are dug to enable farmers to control water. The old rice farms were reliant on steady rain fall and most of the rice plants used to burn in the sun. 5 With an effective water supply in place, the land then needs to be levelled using a rake or a hoe. It's now ready for planting. 6 Weeding is now essential, and takes up much of the farmers' time until harvest.

Photos: Kieran Doherty

Looking to the future

Oxfam have built in a sustainable exit strategy to the project. The training provided will help the farmers continue to produce high yields and make profits as well as feed themselves. The involvement of the local government and its commitment to the project will also aid the sustainability of the project as well as giving it more local ownership.

Susana's story

Susana Edwards is one of 700 farmers who last year increased their rice production with Oxfam’s support.