East Shore United needed a shootout to capture the recent Slocan Men’s Soccer Tournament Crown at the Slocan playing field.The Crawford Bay based squad played a tough squad from Creston to a 1-1 draw in the Championship contest before pulling out the win in the tie-breaker.East Shore finished the tournament undefeated, posting wins over Rossland and host Slocan. East Shore also tied Creston during round robin action. Mallard’s Source for sports is excited to present East Shore with Team of the Week honours.The winning team includes, Dave, Aaron, Vince, Isaak, Noah, Robby, Jason, Jake, Jesse, Wayne, Tim, Simon, Donny, Francis, Gabe, Donovan, July, Aaron, Scully, Lewis, Johnny E., Johnny C., Steve, Dan, Ruben, Allissa, Billy, and Danno.
Yesterday the Daily Observer published an article quoting the Central Bank of Liberia’s 2014 Policy Statement which said that the only way for the Liberian Dollar to stabilize against the soaring US Dollar is for Liberia to produce goods for domestic consumption and export. That same day, two things happened: the first was the grassroots campaign and advocacy organization One.org, along with some of Africa’s top music stars and with hundreds of African Civil Society Organizations who presented their “Do Agric, It Pays” petition to African leaders at the AU summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, calling on them to recommit to spending at least 10% of national budgets on effective agriculture investments. The second thing that happened yesterday was a conversation with one of our readers who could not help expressing his utter shock and disgust over a photo (see above) he had discovered, suggesting some brutal truths about Liberia’s attitude toward agriculture. The image is a 2014 Google Earth photograph of the Guinean and Liberian sides of the border (yellow line) near Gbedin, the site of major rice project during the Tolbert administration. To our reader’s dismay, he saw a series of organized parcels of land – agricultural developments – along the Guinean side of the border, while on the Liberian side, the image shows only forested areas and settlements, hardly any farming activity to speak of. Agriculture activities along the Guinea side of the border are purportedly part of that country’s ‘Agriculture, Trade and Foreign Exchange Strategy: Organized Farms near Ganta and Gbedin’.“This is where a lot of our foreign exchange is going!” he exclaimed. “The Guineans have learned that Liberians are not serious about agriculture, since our market women go there every week to buy produce with which to supply the Liberian population. So [by establishing large farms right along the border with Liberia], they are drawing our foreign exchange into their economy, while we have government officials being named African Minister of the year and so on.”The man’s discovery of the Google Earth image of the Liberia-Guinea border could not have been timelier, with the African Union Summit was just underway in Equatorial Guinea. There, One.org together with Nigerian pop star D’banj and other African musicians and CSOs hand-delivered their petition to several African Heads of State including Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Yayi Boni of Benin, John Mahama of Ghana, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, and Macky Sall of Senegal. “It is time for our leaders to step up and Do Agric at this year’s summit during the AU Year of Agriculture. Millions of smallholder farmers are counting on you—including the over 2 million African citizens who have signed the Do Agric petition and the 400 million who live on less than a dollar a day,” said One.org’s Executive Director for Africa, Dr. Sipho S. Moyo, ahead of the summit. Receiving the petition on June 10 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete promised to “champion this cause at the AU Summit. I will present this petition to the other Heads of State. We as African governments cannot succeed in taking agriculture forward unless we modernize it, instead of our people continuing to use the hand-held hoe and other farming implements from pre-biblical times.”Ghana’s President John Mahama accepted the petition in Accra, Ghana on June 20. He hailed the initiative and reiterated Ghana’s commitment to improving the lives of smallholder farmers, adding that “your campaign is preaching to the converted as we in Ghana are already stepping up the policies and investments in agriculture.”The Do Agric petition contains a bucket list of recommendations to AU members that, if adopted, could among other things boost yields for smallholder farmers and a reduced food import expense, which currently stands at about $25 billion annually. Africa could also benefit from increased food availability for the 265 million Africans who are under-nourished; increased intra-Africa trade benefits, estimated to reach $2 trillion by 2030; increased incomes for farming families through reduced post-harvest loss which today stands at $48 billion a year; and increased food production and agro-processing, providing millions of jobs for African youth.Noteworthy are Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister for the Economy Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Agriculture Minister Adesina Akinwumi, both of who also received the petition. ONE.org officially launched its “Do Agric, It Pays” campaign on January 20, 2014 along the margins of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in support of the 2014 AU Year of Agriculture. The campaign encourages African governments to keep their 2003 Maputo promise to invest at least 10% of national budgets in agriculture, and makes a case for better strategic policies and transparent public investments that will better support smallholder farmers, especially women, and lift millions of Africans out of poverty. Well over 2 million persons have signed the Do Agric petition so far, totaling 97% of the target number of signatures. “We came together because we know Africa is rising,” says Nigerian recording artist D’banj. “Yet the farmers who produce most of our food still struggle to survive. 70% of Africans are employed in agriculture. This week’s AU Summit in Malabo is a historic opportunity for you to change the lives of millions of Africans and create a better future for our youth through better agricultural investment.” Meanwhile, back in rural Liberia, smallholder famers are still desperately yearning for the support of the Agriculture Ministry and other relevant functionaries of government to come to their aid. They are haunted every year by lack of technical support to improve and maximize their output; lack of means (roads, etc) to get their produce to markets; as well as funding needed for acquiring more efficient farming methods and equipment. Even though the Central Bank of Liberia has made available some US$7 million to commercial banks to help farmers, the banks are requiring Monrovia-based land as collateral, which is essentially a non-starter for most small Liberian farmers. There are no quick solutions or easy answers, the Central Bank has already noted. Over the last three years, the Bank reported, some of the country’s top agricultural exports – rubber and cocoa – suffered, contributing to the hike in the exchange rate. Although 2013 saw a slight rebound in cocoa exports, there is a need for serious investment in mechanized farming to give Liberian cocoa (and coffee) the attention it needs on the world market.There are, however, noteworthy sprouts of hope. The newly established Liberia Collateral Registry is expected to count “movable assets” as acceptable collateral for commercial loans, essentially allowing farmers to bank their enterprises using their projected harvests as potential collateral. There is also the phenomenon of school gardens gaining traction around the country, nurturing a renewed passion for planting, targeting Liberia’s youth. The school gardens are effective because the students are fed at school from what they grow, thus learning discipline, diligence and pride in achieving good results alongside core agricultural skills. With guided practice as well as deliberate investment and encouragement from government and relevant stakeholders, this could be the window of opportunity for fighting poverty in Liberia. Like the youth themselves, such opportunities will take time to mature. And then, with hard work, only time will tell.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Story Highlights There were hugs and tears as parents and children came together in an emotional relationship-building exercise at the Dispute Resolution Foundation’s (DRF) Kingston summer camp.The parent-child rap session, held on Thursday (July 20), was the highlight of the fourth day of the camp, which is being staged at the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions on Hope Boulevard.The session was intended to help rebuild and strengthen the connection between parents and children, and focused on exchanging perspectives with a view to better understanding each other. The participants were encouraged to share their personal experiences and thoughts.“This gives the parents some background of the type of issues their children may be going through, as well as for the children to understand things from the parental perspective,” DRF Project Manager, Cherrol Taylor, told JIS News.“The activity encourages them to listen while the other party speaks; sometimes because we are so focused on getting our points out, we are not listening attentively. With this therapeutic approach it gives each party a chance to communicate and feel listened to in the end,” she said.The children were each paired with a parent and then rotated, to allow them to interact with parents other than their own.“We believe that when parents hear from other children, they get a broad view. You don’t want to limit the discussion to whatever is happening in the home, you want to broaden that,” Mrs. Taylor said.The Kingston camp is one of four being operated by DRF Peace Centres from July 17 to 28. Camps are also being hosted by the Clarendon centre in May Pen, as well as by centres in Spanish Town, St. Catherine and Flankers in St. James.Some 350 children are participating in the camps across the four locations.Danecia Wright, a 15-year-old student from St. Andrew High School for Girls, who participated in the rap session at the Kingston camp, hailed it as effective and important in helping to bridge the generation gap.“Their [the parents] views and perspectives on things are vastly different from ours… because they want to use methods that their parents used; but they have to understand that we are from the 21st century, so we think differently and society is changing, ” she told JIS News.Another participant, a 15-year-old student from Donald Quarrie High School, also said she benefitted from the exercise.“The rap session went great for me. It helped me to see that parents really can understand what children are going through; but some of them really find it hard to express it. Rapping with some of the parents, I realised that there are good people out there and they want to see us as children do well,” she said.Other rap sessions will be hosted throughout the camps, and will include police and school-based personnel.Mrs. Taylor explained that the summer camps are multi-faceted, engaging the youngsters on a range of issues affecting them. These include puberty, sexually transmitted disease, entrepreneurship, social media usage, impact of music on youth, leadership and stewardship skills, art and craft and cyber bullying.The camps will also be hosting sessions on substance abuse through support from the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA); career options with assistance from the National Youth Service; and personal development with a team from the HEART Trust/NTA.A sports day will also be held at Hope Gardens for participants in Spanish Town and Kingston.One youngster shared with JIS News that she has struggled with behavioural problems, brought on by peer pressure and physical and sexual abuse, and is hopeful that the support being provided by the Foundation, through the camps and other programmes by the Foundation’s Peace Centre, will help her address these issues.“I am learning to show more affection and to talk to people about things,” she said.“The summer camp has been great. I think it is good to have a lot of children coming in, having adults that they can speak to on different issues, and persons that they can confide in,” she added.Seventeen-year-old Kingston College student, Akeem Cargill, also expressed appreciation for the opportunity to learn skills and understand about entrepreneurship and other issues. There were hugs and tears as parents and children came together in an emotional relationship-building exercise at the Dispute Resolution Foundation’s (DRF) Kingston summer camp. The Kingston camp accommodates children from communities such as Maverly, Fletchers Land, Allman Town, Kencot, Rockfort, Tivoli Gardens, Waterhouse, Greater Portmore, Trench Town, Seaview Gardens and Drewsland, among others.The summer camps are supported under Phase Three of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP III), which provides transportation for students to and from home, as well as meals. The session was intended to help rebuild and strengthen the connection between parents and children, and focused on exchanging perspectives with a view to better understanding each other. The participants were encouraged to share their personal experiences and thoughts. The Kingston camp is one of four being operated by DRF Peace Centres from July 17 to 28. Camps are also being hosted by the Clarendon centre in May Pen, as well as by centres in Spanish Town, St. Catherine and Flankers in St. James.