The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) Non State Actors Coalition in Liberia has called for strict adherence to the 10 percent budget for agriculture by the government.
The non-state actors’ coalition, comprising farmers, producer organizations, agribusiness owners, civil society organizations, and the media, said the government’s adherence to the 10 percent budget for agriculture will reduce unemployment and solve the problem of food insecurity.
According to members of the coalition, they will remain resolute or committed to engaging the government to see reason to prioritize the 10 percent public funding for the agricultural sector.
The coalition members raised the concern at the start of a two day meeting that aims to create awareness about the CAADP Malabo processes.
The meeting, which comes during the 4th biennial review process of the CAADP, is being organized by the Liberian non State actors’ coalition and ActionAid Liberia (AAL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture.
It is held under the theme, ‘Agriculture — the Vehicle for Sustained Economic Development, Poverty Reduction and Food and Nutrition Security’.
The CAADP Malabo calls for every African government to allot 10 percent of its total national budget annually for agriculture in order to reduce poverty, create jobs, and to improve food security in members’ countries.
Accordingly, if the 10 percent of the total national budget is allotted for agriculture annually it means that the sector will experience 6 percent GDP for the country.
Liberia became a signatory to the CAADP Malabo food security framework in 2003 when it was referred to as the Maputo Declaration. The concept of the framework was however later revised after a decade to what is considered today as the Malabo Declaration which drove to Accelerate Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.
The recommitment of the framework led to the setting up of targets, along with seven commitments based on what African leaders referred to as a commitment to implementation, delivery and results that requires the review of countries performance after every two years.
But Liberia, like many other African countries, is reported to be poorly implementing the framework since.
Speaking at the opening of the two day event, Montserrado County District Number One Representative Lawrence Morris called on Non State actors of Liberia to remain strong in advocacy toward the 10 percent government funding.
Representative Morris stated that it was saddened that Liberia is yet to commit itself to the instrument it had signed to.
“It is unfortunate that Liberia is yet to live up to the commitment for agriculture to develop the country. This is why we are here to discuss the CAADP which is designed to take the citizens out of poverty. We need to use agriculture to improve the lives of the citizens. The non-state actors must hold the authorities for the CAADP,” he said.
According to Morris, agriculture was a cross-cutting issue and as such there is a need for Liberia to ensure that it is a priority.
“The country has enormous strength and opportunities. We are depending on the international community for our agriculture but we need to make it our business to prioritize agriculture. When we make agriculture a priority we will create more employment for the citizens,” he mentioned.
The lawmaker said though Liberia has made some gains for agriculture there is still a need to step up to the task.
“Making agriculture as a vehicle for transformation is a choice but here, our focus is on other issues. The CAADP document supports the PAPD that is meant to improve the lives of the poor people, youth and women. Are we going to again organize another workshop? I am glad to see many stakeholders from agriculture here who should be driving this process. It is not just to hold workshops but it is about non-state actors to make sure that what the authorities have said is done,” he said.
Morris told journalists in an exclusive interview that he was using his influence to convince his colleagues to prioritize the 10 percent for agriculture.
“We are a very rich country but poor people because we are not making use of the resources that we have. Until we can take ownership of the agriculture sector we can’t make a difference for our country. We are signatory to many things but yet we are not committed to them.
He mentioned that those of them at the legislature need to do more to lift up the country through budgetary allocation.
“When you take a look at the national budget you see so many different things. But we forget that we will have to eat every day. Agriculture is tied to nutrition and health which should make us know that there is a need to accelerate this process to make sure that we are not left behind,” he further explained.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator Regional Expert & President of the ECOWAS Non State Actors, H. Augustus Roberts said that the meeting is intended to educate the participants on what the CAADP is all about.
He said that the AU and ECOWAS expect non-state actors to take more action that will cause the government to prioritize the 10 percent budget for agriculture.
Robert explained that there is a need for members of the private sector to get a clear understanding about the CAADP.
“But this is not just about the CAADP, it is about economic development and how to reduce hunger and malnutrition. We still have issues with stunting and we want to show how we can use agriculture to solve problems,” he said.
For his part, the Officer In Charge for the Department of Planning and Development, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Jeanine Cooper, Dennis Wiagbe said that the Ministry was working with members of the private sector to make the CAADP process a reality in Liberia.
“The non-state actors have not been given much attention. The Minister of Agriculture has endeavored to organize the private sector. We wish to continue this collaboration to ensure that CSO becomes active for the process,” he said.