Government’s efforts to diversify the Liberian economy by shifting from its traditional crop and mineral (rubber and Iron Ore) which have lost value on the global market to the agriculture sector is gaining ground with the official launch of the e-Registration initiative.
The e-registration means that 150,000 farmers across the country will be validly documented.
According to government, the e-Registration is the hinge support of the Liberia Agriculture Transformation Agenda (LATA), a three year program aimed at diversifying the country’s economy and reducing its vulnerability to external shocks, as experienced from the current global financial crisis resulting from the decline in the country’s traditional resources.
It is intended to promote and transform agriculture into a successful and prosperous business.
The e-Registration exercise was officially launched by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last Saturday at the Klay Vocational Training Center in Bomi County. According to government, the e-Registration, lies at the core of the LATA, which is the foundation for establishing linkages and a system of incentives between value chain actors for an increase in business activities.
The registration process will collect such information as, name, gender, county, district, farm size and location and other personal details. It will enable stakeholders to know where most of the farmers in the country are located. President Sirleaf described it as the best thing for the country as it will provide government with the requisite tools to make informed decisions.
The President noted that shocks experienced in the economy have compelled government to make decisions that will have tremendous economic benefits for the country. She called on farmers to come out and be registered.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Moses Zinnah, described the e-Registration as the beginning of a revolution in the agriculture sector.
Registration is for all categories of farmers, small or large and planters of all food crops and will provide a holistic system to link farmers and marketers to agricultural input supply chains, finance and markets.
It also aims to be integrated into mobile networks, input, extension, financial services providers, market and trading networks and even mobile payment systems.
Opportunity to provide innovative finance solutions to farmers who have not been eligible for traditional financing solutions through commercial banks will be created, said Dr. Zinnah. Registration is the first step in creating a new system whereby the Liberian smallholder farmer will move from the subsistence farming to the business model.
“The ultimate goal is to reduce information inconsistency with regard to farmer-specific productivity and output, site-specific input requirements, financing needs, market opportunities, and others,” he said.
Farmers Union Network president Julius Bass, described the launch of e-Registration as one of the best programs to be initiated by the government since its inception in 2006, because it takes stock of all farmers in the country and the numerous challenges they face.
Mr. Bass, who resounded the slogan of the network – No Farmers, No Food, -noted that the network, through its own initiative, decided to register farmers in the country but it was a tedious and exhaustive process, especially as funding was lacking at the time. However 37,000 farmers were registered during that process.
Bomi County Superintendent, Samuel Brown, noted that Bomi was historically considered as a no farming area—a statement which he differs with—but there have been a tremendous increase in farming activities in the country since the inception of the UP government.
“There are a lot of large farms now in Bomi and the county is at the forefront of the revolution of the agric sector,” he said, and added that the challenges that the farmers are faced with is the insufficiency of farming implements.
Superintendent Brown also recommended that every district in the county provide one hundred acres of farmland for district agricultural programs.
MOA’s Assistant Minister Patrick Worzi noted that the objective of the program is to ensure that the value chain approach is irreversibly anchored within the economic fabric of the country.
Though it started on March 21 this year, it was officially launched by the President over the weekend. Minister Worzi disclosed that within approximately 45 days, 150,000 were registered at over 200 registration centers across the country.
The exercise is being conducted by enumerators using tablets with the involvement of MOA staff and community members to ensure trustworthiness of information voluntarily provide by the farmers.
Minister Worzi noted that it creates a standard database using a system that is up-scalable to include GPS coordinates or other relevant information that can support in providing services to farmers with a view to increasing their skills and financial autonomy.