Vision for Liberia Transformation Party (VOLT) political leader Dr. Jeremiah Z. Whapoe is growing tons of local rice cultivated on 500 acres of land in Salahyah District, Sakielor Town, Bong County to be sold on the Liberian market upon harvest this October.
With many villagers viewing the farm as a boost to rice production here, Dr. Whapoe’s visit on the rice farm was greeted by jubilation from the people of Bong County who had converged in Sakielor Town, with several local groupings including women, elders, men, and youths gathering at various towns to welcome Dr. Whapoe.
The jubilant crowd escorted Dr. Whapoe to the rice farm with several traditional costumes displayed while they sang a Kpelleh religious song which is translated in English as “Whapoe that talk and do.”
The visitation program was the first time ever in the history of Sakielor Town for a politician and leader to visit there. It was also the first time in the history of the remote town for such an investment to be made there because many people have forsaken it on grounds that it’s too distant.
Receiving the villagers’ warm welcome, Dr. Whapoe, a constituent executive member of the opposition Rainbow Alliance, expressed excitement over the reception he got and noted that the cultivation of the 500 acres of land is the beginning of poverty emancipation in Bong County and Liberia at large.
“I’m not going to say that I will make every Liberian an entrepreneur. However, what we stand for is to ensure that poverty is mitigated that even the child whose parents can’t afford to put food on the table by the special grace of God will now begin to eat three times a day,” Dr. Whapoe told the residents.
He sees poverty and hunger as the major factors for Liberia’s backwardness, suggesting that when people are hungry and living in extreme poverty like it is now in Liberia, it’s very common and easy for them to compromise their values and principle.
Dr. Whappoe argued that over the past time, Liberia has been making wrong decisions in electoral processes because the citizens have been subdued by poverty and hunger.
He indicated that due to frustration, hunger, and poverty, people voted for the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) headed by President George Manneh Weah on the basis of seeking a change.
However, Dr. Whapoe said the Weah-lead administration has gone on the contrary and is inflicting more suffering and hardship on the Liberian people. Dr. Whapoe noted that due to the suffering imposed upon Liberians, President Weah is far from re-election comes 2023.
He described the soil as the best bank for investment, economic development, and improvement if the Government of Liberia can prioritize agriculture and stop playing politics with Liberians and the country.
“This government continues to brag about agriculture but yet they have done nothing to address agricultural challenges across the country or even empower local farmers for Liberia to grow what she eats,” Dr. Whapoe lamented.
He said it is very frustrating for President Weah to call for an agriculture fair in Bong County, and yet the government couldn’t show a single farmer that it has empowered, or land that it has cultivated in the county for agriculture activities with all the vast agricultural land there.
The VOLT political leader informed the gathering that he signed a US$2 billion dollars contract with his international partner to invest in Liberia and he took it to President Weah’s office, but the president allegedly rejected the contract simply because he is an opposition politician and he would take the glory.
Dr. Whapoe said that suggested that the CDC – led government is not ready to fight hunger, end poverty, and improve the economy of the country.
Dr. Whapoe wondered as to how long will Liberia continue to import rice from China, Japan, and Indian, noting that these countries are robbing the Liberian people because, in every policy and agreement, Liberia always gets little economic benefits while those countries get more.
“Liberia’s bilateral and diplomatic policies are always crafted by our policymakers in a way that the cost is higher than the benefits. And it’s wrong, let the benefits be higher than the cost,” Dr. Whapoe recommended.
“Liberia has not experienced true independence yet because we are still looking up to other countries to feed us. Listen, once we continue to look to others to feed us, we are still controlled by them because our decision is made by them,” he continued.
He added that the agriculture investment that he is doing in Nimba and Bong Counties is expected to extend to other parts of the country, noting that it will not just provide jobs for Liberians, but will make sure that it marks the beginning of poverty emancipation across the country.
Also speaking, the head of the project, Yekeh Solunkbah said the project is having approximately about 500 workers from across the entire Salahyah District, Bong County. He added that the people who are working on the farm are paid on a daily basis and they are fed three times a day with full support from the farm owner, Dr. Whapoe.
Solunkbah revealed that the project has done much for the citizens of Bong County, helping them to solve other family problems with the little money they get from the farm as pay.
Further, Solunkbah disclosed that they have invested about LRD$5 million on the farm for salaries and logistics, among others.
He praised Dr. Whapoe for having found passion in agriculture, particularly in growing Liberia’s staple food rice, knowing that it has been part of the many plights of the people here.
For their part, the women, youth, elders, and farmworkers expressed excitement over the initiative and vowed to work with Dr. Whapoe.
According to them, as Dr. Whapoe has decided to address their challenges ranging from road, clinic, school, and safe drinking water, they will help him in everything that he does, noting that God will continue to bless him for his kindness.
The group noted, that since they have been in Sakielor Town, they and their children have not entered school and hospital, adding that the government has forgotten about them.