“Childhood Passion Inspired Me into Farming” -Says EJS, Holds Second Rice Harvest

MONROVIA: Studies have shown that to have an early passion for something may lead to lighting up your path of success if you stay grounded in your values and you are willing to reflect back on the lessons it taught you. This premise may have fired up the imagination of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to go into farming as one of her many activities after her illustrious public service career, especially the presidency, having developed interest in farming growing up in her village at Jayjuah, Bomi County. The Analyst reports.

A surprised rainfall which cooled off the temperature from yesterday’s hot sunny day heralded former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second harvest of rice grown on her backyard farm at the Fish Market community, Sinkor, amidst joy and excitement of seeing her effort, time, energy and resources bearing good fruits right before her own eyes.

Speaking exclusively to The Analyst after the harvest which was conducted by some women from her native Jayjuah village in Bomi County, Madam Sirleaf said since her childhood days she has developed interest in farming after going to Jayjuah several times with her late father at the end of every school year.

“You know I like farming and that is why I have a farm in jayjuah, Bomi County. When we were small there was where our father used to take us when school closed. We used to go there and come back when school opened.

“So it was like a custom in the village. We used to go to the farm, my grandmother came from Jayjuah and that was where she died. We used to go on the farm with her, cut rice, grow pepper, bitter balls, all of those things were grown on her farm”, Madam Sirleaf traced her passion for farming with such nostalgia.

Responding to a question on what motivated her to engage in the backyard farming on her vacant and unused land, Madam Sirleaf said for a long time the piece of land was untapped dating as far back as in the 70’s when she constructed the house and even when she renovated the building after she returned to the country during the era of the interim government, the parcel of land was still there unused.

She said part of the reasons was due to the unavailability of time to convert it to a farm being a swampy area but after her presidency and she had some time to sit and rest at home, she decided to make full use of it.

“I was looking at the land being a swampy area that could be used to cultivate rice in the rainy season and vegetables in the dry season but I did not have the time to personally get involved and monitor it.

“But since I now have the time to sit down and rest, I have decided to make use of this land to plant rice in the rainy season and vegetable in the dry season. When the rain comes, the vegetables don’t do well but it is good for rice and that is how we started this rice business here”, Madam Sirleaf said.

Madam Sirleaf said she started much earlier after she left the presidency but her illness derailed the project until some two years ago when she resumed work fully with the farming and “it has been very wonderful”.

She said the women who came to harvest the rice were from her native Jayjuah village in Bomi County on a voluntary basis after they saw the first harvest when they had come to present some food items from their farms.

“The women were not the ones that planted the rice. I contracted other women to do it. This is the second harvest but when they came during the time we were doing the first harvest, this other part was not ripe and they said they will come and do the harvest for this one when it is ripe and we accepted the offer..

“And they are here today doing an amazing job. Other women also joined. One of them, Martha Nagbe, an old friend came from the Sinoe side; then the other lady called Hawa, she is actually my cousin from Kormah. So everything has been good today”, she said.

She said the women are well known to her as she was the one who inspired them to go into farming and “anytime I am on their farms, I always buy from them and give them the best price that no one can ever give them”.

“So during this Christmas they came with products from their respective farms as my season’s gifts. They came with eddoes, potatoes, cassava, pepper, okra and all those they planted on their farms. Everything we plant here are the similar things they also plant”, she said.

When asked if the rice and other products from the farm will be sold in the market, Madam Sirleaf said all her products have always gone to her household, friends and associates for their personal consumption but not for commercial purpose, adding “we need to produce what we eat and eat what we produce”.

Some of the women who spoke to our reporter said they were excited to be on the farm to harvest for the former President who according to them is “our ma, she always helping us and we are happy to be here today to cut this rice for her and we will come anytime she calls us”.

They had earlier, upon arrival, presented a basket filled with vegetables as Christmas gifts to Madam Sirleaf for always being there for them and “also to taste what we were able to bring from our farms”.

It can be recalled that the first democratically elected female President in Africa and Liberia a few weeks ago did her first harvest of rice and vegetables from her backyard farm which she has been involved with since leaving the presidency.

During the occasion, she told Liberians to develop interest in farming whether on a wide scale or small scale to ensure food security for the country, a strong policy thrust of her administration when she was in authority for 12 years.

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