The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Country Representative to Liberia, Jean-Alexandre Scaglia, is calling on government and international partners to focus on improving and investing in the Agriculture sector for job creation and self-reliance.
Briefing the media Tuesday, May 27, on the FAO’s national priorities and the important role of Agriculture including rural development, employment, youth support, food security and poverty reduction, Mr. Scaglia said it is important for government to use Agriculture for development.
According to the FAO Country Representative, food insecurity and malnutrition was a serious problem for the country, especially the rural areas of Nimba, Maryland and Grand Kru Counties.
He further explained that the government of Liberia, national and international partners have not been focusing on investing both financial and technical support that will shift and improve the agriculture sector and the lives of the Liberian people.
“Let us use half of the two hundred million dollars that we spend on importation of food in Liberia for agriculture for two to three years for farming and technical as well as capacity building and Liberia will have more food and reduce importation throughout country.
Mr. Scaglia insisted that there is a need for the agriculture sector to have huge investment that will create food security, capacity building for farmers, and reduce vulnerable employment for the youthful population that is over 55%. Greater investment in agriculture will also reduce malnutrition.
Stating the statistics of food insecurity in Liberia, Mr. Scaglia described as worrisome Lofa’s 61.3% food insecurity, Bong’s 64.6%, Sinoe’s 65.1%, Grand Bassa’s 60.8%, Cape Mount’s 78.8%, rural Montserrado’s 67%, Nimba 41.5%, and Margibi 63.2% among others.”
According to the FAO Country Representative, malnutrition has risen to 80% in the country, most especially in the rural areas and poses a serious threat to the health sector of the people. He called on the government as well as the partners to ensure that malnutrition is urgently addressed.
Mr. Scaglia: “If there is no decision now to create jobs in the agriculture sector and invest more in food security, there will be serious problems for the country in driving hungry from Liberia. The government needs to take advantage of the present population to improve and address the issues of food insecurity,” he warned.
According to him, agriculture is the best job for the vulnerable unemployment youth in the country, which would also stop the importation of over 50% of food. Liberians are capable of producing their own food, including fishery, he said.
The FAO Representative explained that for Liberia to make progress in improving the lives of its people and creating job,“ the government needs the right information, capacity building, financial and technical knowledge that will support self reliance and better living conditions.”