Changing the Perception: Bomi County Strives to Become Liberia’s New Bread Basket

first_imgThere is a perception in Liberia that citizens from the lower Western part of the country, especially Bomi, which is just a stone’s throw from the capital, are a lazy group of people who do not engage in farming even to feed themselves.  According to this perception, the Bomi people do not even think about exporting to neighboring counties, especially Montserrado.Bomi citizens are continuously criticized for coming to Monrovia to purchase simple garden produce such as pepper, potato greens,  cassava leaf,  eggplant—things that could easily be grown in their home gardens, or  even their farms. They have the soil, rainfall and other elements necessary for good cultivation, so why are they not growing their own food?The county has also been a recipient of government assistance and remittances from many of its sons and daughters living abroad who send money to their people in Bomi.  Also, there are NGOs and other international organizations coming in to do projects.There have also been a Social Cash Transfer scheme pilot project launched in Bomi County since 2009,  before they were extended to Maryland County a few years back.The (SCT) Scheme is a regular payment of money provided to extremely poor and labor-constrained households to decrease poverty and reduce economic vulnerability.These counties were chosen because of their relatively high food insecurity as determined by data from the Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey (CFSNS).But the residents of Bomi, who say that such perception about them is wrong, are on the verge of changing what could be described as the “status quo” in their county.With the emergence of the West Africa Agriculture Productivity (WAAPP) Project, started a few years ago, Bomi farmers through an Innovative Agricultural Platform, simply known as  (IP), things have begun  to change in the county, relative to the productive cassava production.IP is an agricultural program dealing specifically with cassava production, with an introduction of technology in the production of a cassava value chain. It is an initiative of WAAPP in collaboration with Deutsche Welthungerhilfe (DW), formerly German Agro Action and implementing partners. The project is being implemented in eight of the fifteen counties.Bomi County, according to the WAAPP’s Bomi  coordinator, Kemoh Sherif, is now leading the other seven counties involved in the IAP in the production of cassava and other value-chains in the country.One of the leading farmers’ groups in the county, Youth for Positive Change (YAPC) located at Banana Farm, are leading the entire process in the county. YAPC, producer of the famous Bomi Gari, has some of the largest cassava farms.Bomi is the home of several eminent Liberians, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, House speaker Alex Tyler and Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly.The farmers, at a meeting last week with officials from WAAPP and DW, said other Liberians have perceived them as being lazy as a result of the lack of support on the part of the central government and Non-Government Organizations that are involved in the agric-sector through farmers support.The Bomi farmers were meeting with these partners to find other means through which they (farmers) may be assisted as the program comes to an in end in March.“We want to change this wrong perception about us as being lazy and tell the Liberian people what we are capable of doing in this county, the Secretary General of the platform, Mr. Zinnah Quaye, said.The platform said that farmers in the county are seeking support to ensure that their county becomes food reliant, but they need support to get involved in the production of other food crops, including vegetables and even raising animals, such as chickens and pigs.“We don’t only want to be involved in cassava production but this is the only place that we are getting support. We have a vision as a platform for our county to become the next bread basket of the republic,” members of the platform told this reporter.“The only thing that is keeping as back from engaging in producing our own food is support, but it is support which  will help us to make Bomi become food-sufficient and even a food  exporter. “We have the willingness and manpower but only the funds are lacking,” Mr. Quaye stressed.The platform’s members are, however, in search of markets where their cassava products will be sold. “You know when you produce and the market is available you become more encouraged to do more and we have been saying that for a while now, but we need more customers for our Bomi Gari,” the platform chair said.One major impediment to Banana farmers is the condition of the roads leading to their farms. The roads are in such a deplorable condition that it impedes quick movement. Sometimes farms are completely cut off.Though they are trying the fix the roads manually in the absence of yellow machines, they are appealing to the government and others to come to their aid and recondition the roads.The Bomi component of the project targets 30 farming groups in 30 locations in the county’s three districts, Dewein, Senjeh and Klay.“The IP program is a one-year initiative that began in January of last year and should have ended this gone December.  “But,” said the DW coordinator, “due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus we had some setbacks. So we decided to extend the time to March this year. “This is meant to work properly along with these farmers to ensure that they get all the basic necessary logistics and business contacts so that when they produce  their products there will be a market for them,” Mr. Sensee L. Sirleaf, Human Development Foundation (HDF) executive director said. HDF is an implementing partner of DW.The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund has been supporting government in its UNICEF Social Cash Transfer Program.Meanwhile, about 64% of Liberians fall below the absolute poverty line and 48% below the extreme poverty line. This means, approximately 300,000 households are below the poverty line and about 50,000 households are extremely poor and labor constrained.These 50,000 households do not have access to any temporary employment projects and have no formal means of support.It is known that people below the extreme poverty line suffer from chronic hunger and cannot meet their most basic needs. While all members of a household feel the impact, its effects are particularly bad for children.The Social Cash Transfer (SCT) scheme was created to protect children and the poor and vulnerable households from the worst impacts of food insecurity and the general deprivation caused by extreme poverty.In developing countries, money is spent primarily to improve nutrition, but also to facilitate access to education and improve health, especially for women and children.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Getting Away From it All… And Taking it With You

first_imgMore Noise to Signal. 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… Tags:#Cartoons#web 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout rob cottingham You’ve probably heard that ReadWriteWeb has just announced the 2010 Mobile Summit, which – judging by last fall’s real-time web summit – is going to be a bang-up event. (With Kaliya Hamlin facilitating, how can it be otherwise?)This one’s in honor of the summit… and in honor of all of us for whom ubiquitous connectivity means you’re never really 100% present in physical space.Oh, sure, it has its drawbacks – the car accidents, the walking into parking meters, the wedding that got called off because you just had to Twitpic a photo of the moment to your tweeps, which was awkward as you were the bride.But let’s admit it: We’re part of the hive mind, and we’re proud of it. Onward to Mountain View! 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Related Posts last_img read more

Harnessing the Power of Rehearsal for Your Film and Video Projects

first_imgIt’s time we highlight the importance of the rehearsal, as well as the actors’ performances, in your film and video projects.We live in a truly great era for film and video professionals. Not only do we have unprecedented access to cameras, gear, and equipment — thanks to a thriving market — we also have the vast powers of the internet at our fingertips to research, study, and hone our knowledge and skillsets for film and video production.Yet, for every camera buy-guide or Premiere Pro tutorial, there’s one aspect of the film production that often goes ignored on these filmmaking channels: the highly important role of the filmmaker in rehearsing and directing actors and their performances.If you’ve ever watched film school students’ short films, or just worked on some DIY projects of your own, you’ll notice wooden performances and awkward faces and reaction shots that seem much different from their big budget and TV screen counterparts.In some ways, this may be a reflection of the actors and their skill level and professionalism. However, it’s really a reflection of the filmmakers and directors who have the job of conveying, coaching, and bringing out these performances.Look at some of your favorite classic and modern films as examples. More than likely, you’re watching the final products of months of rehearsals, deep character conversations, and endless takes searching for those perfect line deliveries and reactions. So, for the sake of your next project, please heed this advice and give your actors, their performances, and the highly important rehearsals the diligence they are due.Hand out Character PacketsLet’s start at the very beginning of your filmmaking process. You have an idea for a short or feature film. You may not even have a script written, but you have an idea of the characters, the events, and/or the conflicts involved. As you develop your story and refine your script, keep in mind that you’re creating characters that actors will need to understand, make their own, and portray in front of the camera.Many film productions, especially when dealing with auteur writer/directors, will give perspective actors character packets or other materials to help the actor start to understand his or her character and role. These can be whatever you want them to be — background story, images from a magazine, clips from other movies, and so on.The goal is not only to write a script and hand it to an actor to read the lines, but also to start thinking about it as creating a character who can exist in this cinematic world. Help your actor share this vision, making it his or her own as well.The Table ReadIn many productions, the first rehearsal (of sorts) is the all important table read. Ideally, you’ll have the full cast present (as well as the majority of the people involved with the production) to really start hammering out the script and what’s going to need to happen for each scene. Unfortunately, while table reads are helpful, they are rather stunted in how much of a “rehearsal” they actually can be. Your actors are stuck sitting at a table, not in wardrobe, hair, makeup, or often character.The table read really should be the most rough of rough drafts, not your first and only rehearsal. It’s just to make sure everyone knows the full story and that there are no obvious problems with the script. It’s also highly important for everyone to take lots of notes! Ideas will start forming here and they’ll need to actually be addressed once you begin real rehearsals.Rehearsals and BlockingOn the biggest budget of features and on projects where talent can be given the time it needs to rehearse, you’re looking at several weeks of intensive rehearsals and blocking. (And even much longer than that if you’ve written complex action or stunt sequences.)However, that might not always be available for many indie or DIY productions. Still, at the very least, you should dedicate one or two “rehearsal weekends” where you can spend a full day or two working with your actors on their performances.Blocking is another huge aspect of the filmmaking process that can be just as complex and important as the lines and deliveries. If you can start rehearsing on the same set you’re filming on, that will be a huge help. If not, you should have a strong understanding of what the sets will look like, where you’ll want your actors to go, and what you want your actors to do.The Emotion ScaleImage by FGC.A nice trick of communication a filmmaker or director can have with his or her actors is the “emotional scale” exercise. At any given time in a scene, an actor’s character will be feeling and conveying an emotion(s). Whether that’s anger, fear, love, desperation, or even a combination of multiple emotions.As a director, it’s your job to convey to the actor what level of these emotions you want to see and capture on camera. It’s a great warmup and also very helpful in rehearsals to have your actors practice going through these emotions at different ranges (one being the lowest visible level and ten being the highest extreme level). When in a scene, it can be a quick way to check in and convey at what level your actor’s character should be at.Treating the Camera as a CharacterFinally, while you should absolutely focus on your actors and their performances, as a filmmaker or director you should also be just as focused on your camera and how it too will be interacting within a scene. We rarely see the static camera simply capturing performances as if they were a play.Instead, the camera is often very much a part of the action. Whether it’s on dollies, gimbals, or even straight handheld, having the camera’s movements and blocking planned out is important, not just for capturing dynamic shots, but also the safety of your camera and actors, as well.I’d go as far as suggesting, in those earliest days of rehearsals, to have your camera (or a camera stand-in) in those sessions. Begin rehearsing where the camera will be at any given time and what the framings will be for the different scenes, sequences, and shots.Cover image via FrameStockFootages.For more acting and filmmaking tips and tricks, check out these articles below.The New and Non-Actor’s Crash Course: Part One5 Filmmaking Tips for Acting and Directing (at the Same Time)Directing Challenges: How to Communicate Effectively with ActorsTips for Working with Child Actors on a Film or Video SetThe Practical Guide to Managing Actors on a Low-Budget Shootlast_img read more

Nitish’s new team in the saddle in Bihar

first_imgBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday inducted his new 27-member Cabinet. The team has 14 Ministers from the Janata Dal(U), 12 from the BJP and one from the Lok Jan Shakti Party.Most of the former JD(U) Ministers, including one from the minority community and a woman, are in the new team. The two new faces from the party are Dinesh Chandra Yadav and Ramesh Rishideo. Khurshid, aka Firoz Ahmad, who was Sugar Cane Industry Minister in the previous government, is the lone representative of the minority community, while Manju Verma, former Social Welfare Minister, is the lone woman in the new Cabinet.Among the 12 BJP Ministers sworn in are senior party leaders who had been members of the erstwhile NDA government before Mr. Kumar broke away in 2013.The new BJP faces are Rana Randhir Singh, Braj Kishore Bind, Krishna Kumar Rishi, Vinod Narayan Jha, Binod Singh, Vijay Kumar Sinha and Suresh Kumar Sharma. Mangal Pandey could not take oath as he was away in Himachal Pradesh, having recently been appointed BJP State in-charge.From the LJP, Pashupati Kumar Paras, younger brother of party chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, found a place in the Cabinet. However, Mr. Paras is not a member of either House of the legislature.The Union Minister and his family were present in the swearing-in ceremony. “It is the discretion of the Chief Minister to include anyone in the Cabinet … earlier, my name was decided by the party to become the Minister,” he said.The Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), led by the former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, led by Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha, did not find representation in the Cabinet.The name of RLSP leader Sudhanshu Shekhar was deleted from the list of Ministers at the eleventh hour “for reasons not known”.Critic sidelinedHowever, party sources told The Hindu that Mr. Kumar was not in favour of including anyone from the RLSP as Mr. Kushwaha, a friend-turned-foe of his, has been bitterly attacking him on every issue. Someone from the HAM(S) could be included later, said a BJP leader.“From the NDA, 16 Ministers will be in the Cabinet … with Sushil Kumar Modi as Deputy Chief Minister. We can still accommodate two more,” senior State BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav told presspersons.Between the BJP and JD(U) members, the Cabinet has a fair representation across castes and regions, though there is a pr edominance of leaders from Mithilanchal and Champaran.last_img read more