Diagnostic study for the GROW-2 program in Liberia: Conclusions and recommendations

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional

Abstract

The diagnostic study conducted for the GROW-2 program in Liberia by Wageningen Plant Research offers up- to-date insights into the agricultural sectors on cocoa, cassava, and horticulture in Liberia, with a specific emphasis on soil fertility. This summary focuses on the results of the soil analyses, key recommendations, and conclusions, providing a roadmap for enhancing agricultural productivity, sustainability, and resilience in Liberia. Results of soil analyses The study conducted an extensive soil analyses from 40 sampling sites in four counties (Lofa, Nimba, Monteserrado, and Bong) to assess critical soil properties essential for soil fertility and crop productivity. The soil samples revealed alarming levels of soil acidity, extremely low phosphorus availability, varying soil textures across different regions, and the importance of soil organic carbon for soil health and ecosystem functioning. The soil samples exhibited low pH levels, indicating acidic soils that can impact nutrient availability for crops. The mean pH value was 4.49, emphasizing the need for soil amendments to address acidity issues. Extremely low phosphorus levels were revealed with a mean value at 0.295 ppm, highlighting a critical constraint for crop growth and the necessity for interventions to increase phosphorus availability. Variations in soil texture were observed across different counties, with Lofa county showing higher clay fractions, positively influencing soil properties such as water retention, drainage, and nutrient availability. Soil organic carbon (SOC) was identified as crucial for soil health, nutrient storage, soil structure, water retention, carbon sequestration, microbial activity, and pH buffering. Enhancing SOC levels through sustainable practices is vital for improving soil fertility and ecosystem resilience. The results highlight variations in soil texture and organic carbon content across different counties in Liberia, indicating the importance of understanding local soil properties for effective agricultural practices. Samples from Lofa County, mainly cocoa plantations, had higher clay fractions and generally higher SOC levels associated with more soil microbial biomass compared to the other counties. Nimba county had higher silt and sand fractions in soils. In samples from Montserrado and Bong counties, from mainly horticulture and cassava fields, sandy clay loam soils predominate. Recommendations to address the challenges identified in the cocoa, cassava, and vegetable value chains in Liberia Seeing is Believing: The report emphasizes the importance of visual demonstrations and knowledge transfer interventions to showcase best practices and innovative techniques. It is recommended to intensify and rehabilitate cocoa agroforestry systems and diversify production through improved practices. For all sectors localized soil amendment programs are recommended. For cassava it is recommended to improve farmers access to improved varieties and enhance virus management. Best practices for horticulture depend on the specific crops. There is also potential for selecting certain crops suitable for rainy season cultivation, such as pumpkin, beans, and cabbage. Production planning is important in both cassava and vegetables. Vegetables have short production cycles and require good soil and water, making the field’s size and budget for the inputs critical. The cultivation practices recommended to enhance yield and quality include prioritizing the use of commercial varieties initially due to their cost-effectiveness and seed-saving potential, and the use of nursery systems for seedling production, with interventions to demonstrate optimal conditions and protocols. Additional components for an intervention package through field demonstrations for horticulture are outlined in the report, as well as practices to be shown for optimal cocoa and cassava production under Liberian conditions. Knowledge Transfer Project The development of knowledge transfer activities involving stakeholders from research institutions, private sector, and farmers is recommended to disseminate information, build capacity, and promote sustainable farming practices. Long term projects should include the involvement of the Ministry of Agriculture. 6 | Report WPR-1331 The study underscores the critical need for interventions to address soil fertility issues, enhance agricultural practices, and promote sustainable development in Liberia. By focusing on improving soil health, implementing nature-based solutions, and fostering climate-smart farming practices, Liberia can work towards achieving its agricultural and socio-economic goals. The report highlights the importance of strategic investments in primary production, knowledge transfer, and collaborative efforts to drive sector transformation and ensure long-term sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Plant Research
Number of pages37
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Publication series

NameReport / Stichting Wageningen Research, Wageningen Plant Research, Business Unit Agrosystems Research
No.WPR-1331

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