Something good and promising happened in Gbarnga last week. Madam Estelle Kuyon Liberty, a Commissioner at the Land Commission who hails from Bong County, harvested some large fish from three of her fishponds. She is not a professional farmer; rather a money economist trained at her brother Bismarck Kuyon’s alma mater, Iowa State University in the United States. It was Bismarck, a brilliant student, who studied Marine Biology at Iowa State on a scholarship from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Government Farm in Suakoko (now Central Agricultural Research Institute-CARI). Bismark had graduated second of his class from the Booker Washington Institute in 1958 and entered Cuttington College and Divinity School (now Cuttington University), where he continued in Agriculture. He was to return from Iowa and construct fishponds around the country, beginning in his native Bong County. He served at the Agriculture Ministry for some time, then answered the call of his church, the United Methodist, to become principal of the Gbarnga Methodist Mission. He later entered politics and never returned to fishponds, scientifically know as aquaculture.Estelle returned from Iowa State and joined the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, where she rose to Assistant Minister and Senior Economist. She later served as Deputy Minister in the Gender, Internal Affairs and Post and Telecommunications Ministries, respectively, then joined the Land Commission as a Commissioner.It was probably after recalling her late brother’s conversations about fishponds that Estelle later became interested in aquaculture. She constructed several ponds and then founded the Bong County Aquaculture Association (BCAA). Its aim: involving Bong farmers in starting fishponds to improve the people’s protein diet and make money to escape poverty. This enterprising money economist seems determined to extend aquaculture to other counties. She has already enlisted over 94 active fish farmers, including several women and has involved people in Nimba, Grand Cape Mount and Margibi counties. Estelle is receiving technical assistance from ADRA, the Adventist Relief Agency. She is now providing CARI with fish fingerlings with which CARI is now doing research to determine whether heterotis, a breed of fish that she brought in from Guinea, can be further developed here. Heterotis is also found in the St. John River, which bridges Bong and Nimba counties and travels on to Grand Bassa. The ADRA experience is different from regular aquaculture because ADRA has taught farmers to grow not only fish in ponds but also crops, such as vegetables, potato and even rice. Estelle says she is still eating some of the rice she grew in her fish ponds. Aquaculture seems to be an industry whose time has come in Liberia. Estelle contacted the Swedish NGO, GROW, which promptly sent out an aquaculture expert, Damien Legros. He toured eight counties, conducted a market system assessment in aquaculture and concluded that this sector must strengthen its commercial viability for farmers to benefit in several ways. Though still in its infancy, Mr. Legros said in his report, “aquaculture presents Liberia with favorable conditions for the government and partners to prioritize the sector by giving a boost to mechanized farming.”Two additional advantages he named are Liberia’s abundant fresh water and its climate, which he described as “perfect” for most cultured species such as tilapia. Mr. Legros recommended “an implementation and budgeting mainly of the draft aquaculture policy with re-enforcement of the competent authority, the Bureau of National Fisheries. This is why we say aquaculture has great promise in Liberia. From fish, our farmers could go into shrimp and even lobster production. We are happy for a woman like Estelle Liberty who, with the help of NGOs like ADRA and GROW, is single-handedly driving this infant industry. We urge other entrepreneurs to join her. Remember this: Liberia has over the decades had many, many opportunities that we have thrown away and this is partly why our country is listed among the world’s poorest nations. Let this not happen again with this great opportunity that aquaculture presents.We encourage Madam Estelle Liberty to redouble her efforts to push aquaculture throughout Liberia. And though yes, we have the National Fisheries Bureau, let the aquaculture industry be private-sector driven and not be handicapped by government bureaucracy.Estelle, the ball is in your court. Drive it, as you engage your fellow fish farmers around the country and ADRA, GROW, FED/USAID and any other interested group that can help. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Philippe Coutinho can make a similar impact at Barcelona as fellow Brazilian Neymar did, says former Camp Nou and Liverpool star Luis Garcia.After several months of intense speculation, the 26-year-old playmaker completed a €105 million (£94m/$122m) transfer in January.He was drafted in to help cover the loss of Neymar in the summer of 2017, with Barca having also invested in the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Paulinho in their bid to find added attacking spark. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Coutinho is being backed to provide that in his first full season with the Liga giants, with Garcia confident that a former favourite at Anfield can become a crowd-pleaser in Catalunya.A man now working as an ambassador for Barca told AS: “It was hard to sign Philippe and to get him was a real bonus as he was an idol at Liverpool.“The people there loved him but everything calmed down when their team reached the Champions League final.“It’s true they had the attack covered with [Sadio] Mane, [Mohamed] Salah and [Roberto] Firmino, but it was still a shock when we were able to sign him.“Coutinho brings a lot to Barca. We are going to miss [Andres] Iniesta a lot because we won’t see a special player like him for many years, but Philippe is similar to Iniesta and gives you goals, which you need from midfield.“At times we rely too much on Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez and to have a player who can change a game with one shot is something we were not accustomed to seeing.“Coutinho is different to Neymar but he can have the same impact at Barca because he can score more goals, or at least the same“Neymar is eye-catching as he plays a lot with the ball, his runs are 50 metres, but when it comes to effectiveness they are similar.“We still have to see how good he is from free-kicks. He was a bit lost in his first few games but he ended up dominating. People are going to see how good he is.”Neymar netted 105 times in 186 appearances for Barcelona, with the 2014-15 campaign proving to be his most productive as he found the target on 39 occasions across all competitions.Coutinho has never been that prolific, as he operates from a more deep-lying post, with 22 efforts spread across his spells at Liverpool and Barca last season representing his best return to date.