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The perfect recipe

A staple food in many parts of the world, rice has been feeding mankind for more than 5,000 years. At two of our projects in Liberia, there’s bags and bags of the stuff.

ABOVE: Princess Dekar (13) carries rice home in the Zleh Town area of Grand Gedeh county. TOP: Beartrice Quayee transplants rice in River Gee county, Liberia. She is one of the people involved in our cash-for-work project, which provides an income in return for growing rice communally. The farmers tend to their own fields once the jobs are complete. All photos by Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

But this wasn’t always the case. Many local people were farming upland, often several hours’ walk from their homes. Others were growing rice in swamps, where it tends to thrive, but didn’t have proper access to water. Working alongside our partner Catalyst, farmers in two counties in the south east – Grand Gedeh and River Gee – have now found the perfect recipe for growing rice.

The ingredients:

  • Perfectly proportioned plots of uncultivated lowlands suitable for swamp farming
  • Lots of new dams and irrigation systems and the repair of existing ones
  • Expert training on how to manage swamp farms and use irrigation on fields
  • The right equipment for swamp farming: tools and clothing including a rake, shovel, hoe, file, rain coat, boots and gloves
  • Great dollops of support from people like you.

The final result: Lives transformed.

Lucy Tarlue (40), who lives in the Pouh Town area of Grand Gedeh, is eager to talk about the benefits of swamp farming. “I would explain to [my neighbours] that swamp farming is good. Swamp farming is profitable.”

TOP LEFT: Lucy Tarlue, who lives in Grand Gedeh county, produces enough rice to sell the surplus at the market. TOP RIGHT: Rice is ready for transplanting in a rice field. ABOVE: Lucy at her home. She says she would recommend swamp farming to her neighbours. All photos by Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

“I have five plots (2.5 acres). If I do the work on time, I can get 25 bags of rice from each plot (in one year from one harvest).”

This is 10 more bags than she could produce upland. Lucy sells her surplus rice at the market.

“I produce enough rice that we can eat some, I’m able to sell some and send my children to school. I sell the rice in the market.”

TOP LEFT: Maye Teh washes rice in River Gee county. New irrigation systems provided by Oxfam makes rice farming more sustainable. TOP RIGHT: A young boy stands along the muddy main road in Grand Gedeh county. ABOVE: Cash for work workers sing and dance as they hold their tools on their way to work in the rice fields in River Gee county. All photos by Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

Almost 870 million – more than the population of Europe, the United States and Canada combined – go to bed hungry every night in a world which produces enough for everyone to eat.

With your help, we can help people like Lucy to grow enough for her family to eat and also make a living.

To support to projects like the one in Liberia, please donate today. You’re the essential ingredient.