Thursday, May 19 marked an exciting moment for farmers residing in Yarmein, Nimba County, when the Agriculture Relief Service (ARS), a local non-governmental organization supported by ArcelorMittal Liberia launched its livelihood project for local farmers, under the Biodiversity and Conservation Agriculture Program.
Yarmein administrative district being the host of ArcelorMittal iron ore mines in Nimba, the company this year provided more than US$116,000 in support to ARS programs, for local farmers in the district.
Receiving the amount, the head of ARS, Luogon Lah, praised AML for its support. He said with this support from AML, farmers in the district will be provided crop seedings, farming tools, and quality training.
The Biodiversity and Conservation Program launched last week in New Yekepa was the sixth cycle in succession, with ArcelorMittal Liberia’s continuous support.
According to Lah, the project is aimed at reducing deforestation by prioritizing lowland cultivation and animal farming and promoting reforestation that takes into consideration the planting of tree varieties.
“We are working with 14 communities and 445 farmers in Yarmein, and under our biodiversity program, we want to reduce ten percent of damage to the forest in twelve months. We want to also help our farmers raise livestock to replace the consumption of wildlife,” Lah said.
Last week’s official launch was performed by Nimba’s Assistant Superintendent for development, Raily Myers.
In remarks, Hon. Myers commended AML for the support to the agriculture sector in communities surrounding its operational site, noting that it helps to sustain residents in the absence of hunting, fishing, and shifting cultivation.
He also commended ARS and its Executive Director for exhibiting honesty and sincerity in expending funding support provided by AML, and not diverting it to personal use.
Welcoming AML’s Chief Operating Officer, Adriaan Strydom during the ceremony, was a traditional display of songs and dances, by the people of Yarmein.
In a brief remark, Strydom said he was delighted that the agriculture project was embraced by the communities and was also pleased that the company and the people of its communities of impact can work together.
He encouraged the communities to always reach out to AML to peacefully handle issues that may arise in the future.
For his part, AML Environmental department head, Hendrik Kuit, assured the farmers that the support to biodiversity and livelihood programs in the affected communities is a long-term commitment by AML.