The Deputy Chief of Party of the United States Agency for International Development’s Food and Enterprise Development (USAID FED) Mr. Boima Bafaie has urged local farmers in the country to build on interventions provided by FED to improve productivity.
He made the statement at the two-day agribusiness exposition held at the Monrovia City Hall recently under the theme: “Building a Food Secure Future in Liberia Using the Value Chain Approach.”
Mr. Bafaie urged beneficiaries of the program to build on what they received from FED’s program to improve the agriculture sector through the various value chains.
According to him, his response came about when many of the participants kept raising concern about the closure of the project and what would become of the farmers in the counties.
He stated that while FED is closing down its operations in the country, the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) will take over to continue the Feed the Future Program.
“FED didn’t come to stay forever, therefore make use of everything that FED has empowered you in building a food secure future for Liberia,” he clarified.
He explained that FED has concentrated on four value chains during the past five years in Liberia, including rice, cassava, vegetables and goats.
The program helped more than 90,000 farmers to increase their productivity, strengthen processing and post-harvest capacities, increase incomes, create jobs, and builds human resources, as well as working with community colleges to establish Centers of Excellence.
“FED has built rice and cassava processing capacity with Fabrar, Falama the Liberia Business Incubator, Selma Development Corporation, Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Corporation, and construction of 19 rice business hubs in four counties, and built a technical assistance capacity through establishment and strengthening of Enterprise Service Centers operating in the counties where such services previously did not exist,” he said.
FED, according to him also intervened in the establishment of Village Savings Loan Associations to create opportunities for rural women to establish businesses, create job opportunities for youth entrepreneurship through co-financing of tuk-tuks, and power tillers.
The Deputy COP disclosed that local farmers recommended that the Liberian government must work in the interest of farmers by supporting value chains and improve sustainability.
Commerce Minister Axel Ady, contributing, said there are much efforts being put in place in transforming the agriculture sector from subsistence to commercial farming in the country.
He said Liberia is losing money to food importation and it makes no sense to import onions from Brazil or “our staple food, rice, from other countries because with the power and political will, we can feed our country despite the challenges.”
He thanked USAID-FED and welcomed LADA by urging the incoming organization to work with farmers to increase their productivity.