Agriculture Minister Dr. Moses Zinnah has outlined food security, empowering farmers, reducing the huge costs associated with importation of food among several priorities that he will be undertaking in Liberia’s agriculture sector.
During the program marking his official takeover last Friday at the Ministry of Agriculture in Gardnersville, Minister Zinnah described agriculture as the future of Liberia noting that it is two to four times more effective in reducing poverty.
He stated that priority will be given to various food value chains and work with local farmers and youth groups to save the huge sums of money being spent on food importation in order to boost the country’s agriculture sector.
“Africa spends about US$35 billion per year importing food stuffs even though the continent has 65percent of the arable land in the world and in the case of Liberia, over US$100million is spent yearly on the importation of rice, our staple food.
“We will keep in view our current emphasis on the following priority agricultural commodities and their respective value chains: food crops production and processing with emphasis on rice, cassava and vegetables, rubber downstream product, oil palm production and processing, aquaculture, finance for agricultural value chains within the interlinked relation, horticultural crops with emphasis on tomatoes, peppers and their value chains among others,” he said.
Minister Zinnah promised to initiate actions that will transform the MOA’s negative image into a positive one.
He mentioned the need for hard work, partnership, and collaboration, clear policy dissemination to the public as some of the instruments needed to ensure the ministry’s effectiveness.
Minister Zinnah said a major priority of his tenure will be to work with other ministries and agencies and international partners to unlock the country’s huge agriculture potential.
He plans to reduce government’s huge spending on the importation of rice by focusing on food production and giving farmers the needed assistance.
“We need to encourage farmers to move from subsistence farming to mechanized farming through constant partnership, clear policy dissemination,” Dr. Zinnah said.
Bomi County Senator Morris Saytumah stated that rebranding the Agriculture Ministry is very important at this time because it’s time for Liberians to work by ensuring that the sector grows.
He promised to work with the ministry to improve the sector indicating that with the effectiveness of the ministry, many youths would be employed.
For her part, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Mission Director, Madam Barbara Dickerson pledged the US government’s continued support to the agriculture sector.
She said her government’s Feed the Future Program is helping to improve agriculture and is currently working in six counties in four value chains including rice, cassava and goats.
“We are committed to working with Liberia by improving the efforts of Liberians in agriculture to grow more food,” Madam Dickerson said.