President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has announced the enactment of a law that will require the Liberian government to procure 25 percent of goods produced locally to benefit Liberian small businesses.
She made the pronouncement Tuesday, April 29, at the opening of this year’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) conference, held in Monrovia.
This year’s MSME conference spotlighted agriculture and agri-businesses, which contribute an estimated 60 percent to the nation’s gross domestic products (GDPs) and is the sector in which most Liberians are employed.
“I am pleased to announce the National Small Business Act of 25 percent of government’s public procurement for Liberian small business. If made law, thousands of Liberian rice farmers, traders and processors will stand to benefit,” President Sirleaf stated as she formerly opened the MSME conference.
She said that the development of Liberia’s small businesses was critical to the growth of the nation’s economy.
“It is one thing to have a policy; but the implementation is what matters most. In so doing, we will have to ensure that whatever law is put into place is strictly adhered to,” she asserted.
Madam Sirleaf then called on the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to help develop the capacities of small entrepreneurs, so that they would be qualified to access the market.
In remarks, Commerce and Industry Minister Axel Addy said that the initiative was meant to empower local production and create market access for Liberian-made products.
A Liberian rice farmer in Totota, Bong County, who spoke to the Daily Observer after the 25 percent proposed procurement law was announced, welcomed the news. Harriet Larway, head of the Arise and Shine Farmers’ Cooperative in Totota, Salala District, said the law was needed to give rice farmers greater access to markets.
Ms. Larway said that rice farmers in the country find it very difficult to market their produce.
“Considering that rice is the country’s staple food, the government needs to pay more attention to rice farmers. Market opportunity is very essential for local farmers. We are lacking access to finance in order to improve our farms,” she explained.
The female rice farmer further stated that the price at which local rice is bought from farmers is not encouraging.
“The cost for rice production is very high and labor intensive for a 50kg bag to be sold for US$20,” she asserted.