GROW Liberia will this Wednesday begin its landmark “Making Markets Work for the Poor,” (M4P) agricultural markets development program in Monrovia.
The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara Konneh, will give the keynote address while Ambassador Sofia Strand of Sweden will launch the event and spell out the Swedish Government’s commitment to Liberian agricultural market development.
Other government officials expected to attend the launching program are the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, Ms. Ciatta Bishop, Director General of National Bureau of Concessions, Acting Chairman of the National Investment Commission, George Wisner, and Axel Addy, Minister of Commerce and Industry.
In attendance will also be an array of partners from the Government of Liberia, donors, banks, development finance institutions, agribusinesses, smallholder farmers, import suppliers, and key partners and stakeholders including concessions.
The GROW-led M4P approach to agricultural intervention is expected to reduce poverty and increase stability for 230,000 poverty-stricken people in targeted agricultural markets.
The first M4P agricultural intervention program in the country comes at a time, when the country is striving to steer the economy away from its heavy reliance on the extractive sector to industrialized agriculture, said YoQuai Lavala, the program deputy team leader.
Lavala recalls who Liberia has remained one of the poorest countries in the world, with an economy heavily reliant on export earnings from the agriculture sector. But he promised to change the story through successful agriculture programming.
The country’s agriculture sector has suffered from decades of lack of investment and serious capacity shortfalls in agriculture expertise and market information. These challenges have hindered many vegetable farmers from acquiring the right seeds and other essentials to grow high-priced vegetables such as tomatos, cabbage, pepper and watermelon, said Lavala.
According to him, the GROW M4P initiative promotes economic growth and stability for the poor through partnerships with value chain actors, specifically targeting smallholder farmers in key agricultural sectors, including vegetables, rubber, oil palm and cocoa, with a US$22 million budget covering five years from the date of the launch.
Mr. Lavala is confident that GROW-Liberia interventions have the potential to deliver up to US$46 million additional income to 34 thousand farm enterprises and six thousand workers.
According to the deputy team leader, GROW is currently researching interventions that will be started including cocoa, aquaculture and Warehouse Receipts systems, as well as activities in transportation, access to finance and marketing information systems and packing.
The program is funded by the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).
The GROW Liberia program is being implemented by a consortium led by UK-based Adam Smith International, providing programmatic and financial direction, supported by the Springfield Centre, Mercy Corps and the Swedish Institute for Public Administration.