The USAID Food and Enterprise Development (FED) program for Liberia, in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) has launched the Liberia Agricultural Business Enabling Interagency Policy Group—a technical working group to improve the business environment of the country’s agricultural sector.
The launch was held recently—at this year’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Conference at Monrovia City Hall.
The high-level group comprises technical representatives from USAID/FED, government line agencies and commissions (Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Investment Commission, and Governance Commission), the private sector, donors and other stakeholders involved in developing agriculture and agri-business in Liberia.
United States Ambassador Deborah Malac stated at the opening of the conference that Liberian farmers are entrepreneurs with strong potential to go beyond subsistence level.
“Under the Feed the Future (FTF) initiative, the US government is helping to develop not just farmers but a better business climate,” she said.
Meanwhile, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has issued Executive Order #64, suspending import tariffs on all types of agriculture equipment, seeds and live animals for breeding. The new measure proves that policy dialogue between diverse stakeholders and government can lead to promising change.
The Liberia Agricultural Business Enabling Interagency Policy Group will provide information and analysis to major decision makers in order to develop and strengthen meaningful policies, legislation, and donor programming that will improve the competitiveness of Liberia’s food crop sector. By doing so, Liberia seeks to ultimately reduce its reliance on imported food, particularly rice.
At present agro-input suppliers can pay up to 28% in taxes to import new and improved inputs and technology, such as fertilizer, pesticide, green houses, power tillers, and rice mills, a cost passed onto farmers and consumers. These items are crucial to upgrading the food crop sector value chains by reducing production costs, increasing efficiency, and improving yield and quality of local production.
“The executive branch of the Government of Liberia is in the best position to reform policy, but there is a need to lobby the different organs in the legislative branches,” said Deputy Minister for Industry and Inspector General, Alphajour Ahmed Bah III.