The Country Representative of Africa Rice Liberia, Dr. Inoussa Akintayo, has welcomed the Liberia Agricultural Transformation Agenda’s (LATA) e-Registration of farmers in the country.
The process aims to diversify Liberia’s economy by reducing its vulnerability to external shocks and promoting inclusive growth through the transformation of agriculture into a successful and prosperous business.
Dr. Akintayo, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer at the recent program marking the official launch of the LATA’s e-Registration at Klay Vocational Training Center in Bomi County, disclosed that the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has introduced a significant program for the registration of 150,000 farmers, which he said will provide a database of farmers.
“The e-Registration will help our farmers greatly because the ministry will have information on them as it relates to their names, counties, farms and value chains they are producing,” he said.
He praised Liberian farmers for their great contribution and hard work toward making the country food secure.
He stated that while farmers are showing more interest in the agricultural sector, there is a need for the government and partners to provide logistics that would enable farmers to improve their production in various value chains, especially in Liberia’s staple food, rice.
“Logistics are key to the improvement of production. Our farmers need processing machines, hooks, power tillers and other equipment that farmers use to carryout their work,” he added.
Logistics, he explained, is significant in sustaining development in the agriculture sector by adding value to food chains; for example, milling locally grown paddy rice.
The Africa Rice representative, in a conversation with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, disclosed that farmers have been complaining about the lack of logistics, especially processing machines for paddy rice and other value chains.
He stated that it is his dream to have processing equipment in 12 of Liberia’s main food producing counties to add value to their produce, adding that it would help the country be self-sufficient, as it will totally reduce the high costing importation of food on the Liberian market.
President Sirleaf, who listened keenly to Dr. Akintayo, agreed with him that without processing equipment for farmers, they would not benefit from their produce. The President stressed the importance of logistics, after Dr. Akintayo showed her the aromatic rice made in Liberia.
Aromatic rice has drawn the attention of many Liberians who are requesting for large scale production of the rice by local farmers to reduce the high production and retail costs associated with the rice.
Following the request of President Sirleaf and many other Liberians, the Country Representative of Africa Rice disclosed that the first phase of producing the rice was an advertisement aimed at establishing how popular the rice is.
He promised to work along with interested parties to boost the production of aromatic rice. Although the knowhow on this is low among Liberian farmers, Dr. Akintayo said that with knowledge, supported by import tariffs and policies, it can be assured.
The President was impressed with the work of the Africa Rice representative, and demonstrated it by purchasing all of the rice exhibited at the program.
“I love our locally grown rice more than the ones that are imported,” she added.
Meanwhile, Assistant Minister of Agriculture Patrick Worzi, in stating the objective of the e-Registration program, said it aims at ensuring that the value chain approach is irreversibly anchored within the economic fabric of the country.
Though it started March 21 this year, the e-Registration of farmers was officially launched by the President over the weekend. Minister Worzi noted that in approximately 45 days, 150,000 farmers were registered at over 200 registration centers across the country.
The exercise is being conducted by enumerators using tablets, with the involvement of Ministry of Agriculture staff and community members to ensure the trustworthiness of information voluntarily provided by the farmers. The e-Registration process is driven by a Nigerian consultancy firm, Satellite Nigeria Unlimited.