News coming from the MVP camp is scanty, and not unsurprisingly, non-committal. All that was revealed equalled “I’ll tell you at month end – October”. Over at Racers, sources, who asked to remain anonymous, say that the problem is efforts to upgrade their female portfolio were falling short. The all-encompassing picture first is that national champion and World Champs 400m fourth-place finisher Christine Day and Beijing 100m finalist Natasha Morrison, both with gold medals in the mile and sprint relays, respectively, have headed out the MVP exit door. Of lesser quality and impact, back-to-back 200m silver medallist at the World Juniors (2002/2004) Anneisha McLaughlin, later Whilby, has also waved her hand in retreat from her MVP teammates. Almost simultaneously coming to this columnist, Beijing 2008 Olympics joint 100m silver medallist Kerron Stewart has also packed her bags and said goodbye to Racers. Accompanying her on the move were the too-long-promising duo of sprinter Schillonie Calvert and 400m hurdler Ristananna Tracey. The grapevine, and understandably so, reveals that the club’s bosses were spared the trauma of letters of dismissal – their threatening reaction to below-par performances. There is no difficulty in saying to the Dr Glen Mills-conditioned trio “that is the end of that” and “wish you well elsewhere”. Stewart, it must be concluded, has had her time, her most productive days seemingly behind her, although thoughts of that pair of silver medals, being at the time transformed to gold, must be a bothersome factor. Calvert, despite global sprint relay gold medals in 2013 (Moscow, WC) and 2015 (Nassau, World Relays Championships), has not realised early promise shown at the individual level. And Tracey, who it is claimed has taken on major distractions, qualifies for what the horsemen call “in and out running”. They seem all to have been in the Racers departure lounge. The University of Technology-based athletes, if they considered their less than impressive high school past, should have been happy, even under the coaching whip of an uncompromising, no-nonsense Stephen Francis. Day’s WC personal best of 50.14 and Morrison’s similarly described 10.96 in her semi-final show remarkable improvement from the ranks of ‘Miss Nobodys’. Whispers are that their enthusiasm and willingness to compete in Beijing took a nosedive when they resumed the circuit several thousand dollars richer. Given safe landing and embraces in another camp, they could soar to even greater heights. Foster’s Fairplay is reluctant to take an unnecessary swipe at athletes who brought satisfaction from Beijing. However, the label attendant to the charge of post-World Champ attitude suggests ingratitude for the goodwill extended to escort them there. Be careful now! This exit has revealed a few things previously kept ‘beneath the sheets’. So the heat can ‘tun up’ anytime. News scanty Foster’s Fairplay is still basking in the afterglow of the XV IAAF Beijing World Championships. Starting with the new paradigm that branded the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jamaica’s lovers of sports were spellbound by the superlative performances in five world-standard showcases of track and field up to and including the Moscow World Championships two years ago. At every call, the supporters swelled to proportions that were once again to lose valuable sleep, and possibly jobs, as the viewing vigil at times meant early to mid-morning shifts. Many of the thrilling moments of the second stint in the Chinese city were predictable – the Usain Bolt recurring phenomenon; Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s now-cemented upper hand on the world’s best female sprinters; and Elaine Thompson’s emergence, with thoughts of a ‘three the tough way’ clash in Rio – and brought added moisture to the palate. What did not appear in the crystal ball was what coach Lennox Graham would pull from his magician’s bag in Danielle Williams. Having warmed to all those thrills, now safely tucked away, the cooling-down opportunity was to be embraced just to reflect. As mentioned last week, putting the 2016 Olympics in proper perspective and willing our amazing athletes to greater effort and glory would be the sole focus. Perish that thought at the womb stage! Here comes a mass exodus from the two top clubs whose athletes had sweetened the pot a mere few weeks ago in Beijing.
We wonder whether President Sirleaf ever reads the Observer Farmer Column which this newspaper has been producing every Thursday for many years. Dr. Cyril Broderick, professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry, was the preeminent Observer Farmer in the late 1980s. Now we have another highly committed, motivated Observer Farmer, Judoemue Kollie who, though he has not yet even finished college, is faithful, productive and even indefatigable in covering the Farm Sector all over the country.The President, the World Bank people, indeed all Liberians, especially those involved or interested in farming, should read Judoemu’s farm column which, as usual, appeared in the Thursday,—that’s yesterday’s—edition of the Daily Observer. The Observer Farmer column contained three very important stories. The first was a story which, though highlighted in Wednesday’s edition, Judoemue felt compelled to mention on his Farm Page yesterday: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s serious and emphatic pledge to help Liberia in the recovery of its agriculture sector.Remember we said in yesterday’s editorial that AGRICULTURE was the FIRST thing President Kim mentioned while outlining his multi-faceted recovery plan for Liberia in the post-Ebola period. The WBG leader explained why he is targeting this sector first: “Agriculture is a key pillar of the Liberian economy,” he noted. The second story on yesterday’s Farm Page highlighted a most encouraging and innovative initiative undertaken by 24 women farmers in Clay Ashland, Montserrado County. These women have organized themselves under an umbrella called the New Generation Women Farmers Group, within which they have started a Village Saving Loan Association (VSLA). Recently, with the help of some international donors, these women distributed LD286,820 among themselves to expand their farming efforts, especially cassava production.Can the government and other able parties help these women with farm implements to make their work easier? Can the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) assist them in providing improved cassava varieties and lend technical support, such as deploying some of its staff to advise the women on proper cassava and other crop cultivation?Judoemue’s third story is the most important one: he featured a rice farmer in Foya, Lofa County named Franklin Tengbeh, who has successfully cultivated 14.7 hectares of high yielding rice. Mr. Tengbeh is now harvesting his rice, some of which he intends to pass on to other area farmers as seeds.But, Judoemue pointed out, Farmer Tengbeh is faced with a number of very serious challenges: lack of storage, transportation, thrashers and drying floor, among others. Herein, we think, lies an excellent opportunity for President Sirleaf’s urgent intervention. She needs to find an expert and send him or her to Foya to see Mr. Tengbeh and what he is doing, and find out how he can be helped.Foya has long been known for its superior agricultural productivity. Ever since the legendary Foya Paramount Chief Tamba Taylor, beginning in the 1950s, taught his people to farm, they have been self-sufficient not only in rice and vegetables but also meat. They grow their own cattle, goats, poultry, pigs and sheep. The Foya farmers are once again giving the Liberian government another opportunity to redeem itself by reaching out to these enterprising people. This time, the government should be very focused and do ALL it can to help Farmer Tengbeh and others to succeed and, in the process, to feed Liberia.Judoemue mentioned in his World Bank story a very important historical fact, which most people have forgotten. He started by saying that in the last National Budget, only 2.4% was allocated to Agriculture. Yet, 10 years ago, African leaders met in Maputo, Mozambique and adopted the Maputo Declaration which called on African governments to allocate at least 10% of their annual budgets to Agriculture.Now we see why Liberia faces a serious threat of food insecurity. Now we see why our people are poor. This stems from two main problems: first, we have not invested sufficiently in agriculture; and second, most unfortunately, many of our Agriculture Ministers have failed us. We must find a solution to these two problems and jumpstart our nationwide farm program again—in vegetables, tree crops (coffee, cocoa, rubber, oil palm, cashew nuts, mangoes, etc.), in rice, our staple, in banana and plantain and in meat (cattle, goats, poultry, pigs and sheep), all of which also grow well in Foya.Let us remember what we said in yesterday’s editorial: the World Bank and many others are prepared to help us, especially in the post-Ebola period. But none of this help will amount to much if we do not help ourselves.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)