Liberian Agriculture Minister, Florence Chenoweth has criticised some of the methods used by international agencies, such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, to help farmers in developing countries.
SV reporter asks question ZOOM INTO CLOSE UP of Florence Chenowith, Liberian Minister of Agriculture (THREE SHOTS)
REPORTER: "How do you think that present development efforts can be made of immediate benefit to the individual small farmer in the developing countries throughout the world?"
CHENOWETH: "I feel that we should start immediately to change our practice of preparing projects for (indistinct) small farmers and taking them to the farmers and asking them to implement these projects - projects which they have had no say in its identification or the end results. I feel that if we involve them from the planning stage, let them help us identify what is useful for them, we would achieve much more success. I believe that the farmers are just a bunch of good, very cautious people who have been exposed to a lot of errors, they have had no say in, and they are just not that willing to be exploited, if I should use this strong language, any more, or in this case.
There is one example which I have used in our own case at home, when people say farmers are lazy. They usually refer to the situation where they see a farmer sitting in the afternoon at four o'clock or so, having a cold drink or sitting under a palm tree. But to these people I ask, when on holiday or on a weekend when the sun is very hot, when you go out to the beaches and relax with a beer or some sandwiches, you are satisfied with saying that you are relaxing. But when the farmer who has stayed in the field from five in the morning relaxes under the palm tree at four, we say the farmer is lazy. Or when a farmer has been told that this is a good programme for you and it has failed five times in a row and he does exhibit some resistance to accepting another programme, we say that the farmer is ignorant or that he is resistant to change. I don't think this is fair and I do hope that the world will begin to take a new look at the approach which we carry out in preparing projects, and will make a real attempt to solve farmers much more in the preparation."
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Background: Liberian Agriculture Minister, Florence Chenoweth has criticised some of the methods used by international agencies, such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, to help farmers in developing countries. During a recent interview in Rome she applauded the aims of such schemes, but stressed that the organisers of the projects were often out of touch with the needs of the small farmer. The Agriculture Minister suggested that there should be more research at the local level before new development plans were begun.