Grow what you eat, eat what you grow

Liberia, November 15, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Bija Gutoff/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Photo: Bija Gutoff/Mercy Corps

It's so lush here, it's seems like every plant would grow, and grow hearty, all on its own. But of course, like anything, there's an art and a science to successful agriculture. To get the highest yields from their crops and gardens, Liberian farmers are learning new techniques from Mercy Corps.

We visited a demonstration garden in Vaye Town, Gbarpolu County, where women and men are making their own compost, seasoning it with a touch of a local plant that naturally repels nematodes and using it to mulch their vegetables. They're getting more sweet potatoes by planting a single spud in each mound.

They've also learned to plant each kind of vegetable – cassava, corn, okra, cowpeas (beans) and groundnuts (peanuts) – in its own row or mound, so they can create and monitor the conditions in which it grows best.

In a land this fertile, it makes sense to focus on agriculture as the main development vehicle, as "President Ellen" has done. Mercy Corps is working with Liberian farmers to coax their next meal – and all the meals of their future – out of the ground.