Farming Materials Too Expensive

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“As long as prices of farming materials remain expensive on the local market, many farmers will become discouraged and not continue to grow more food for the country. The government must come up with a regulation that will ensure the reduction of the cost of basic farming materials such as fertilizers and agro-chemicals to encourage farmers to continue to farm,” says Mr. Momolu Bass, national coordinator for the Farmers Union Network of Liberia (FUN).

Mr. Bass spoke during a Daily Observer exclusive interview at his office in Fendell, outside Monrovia.

FUN is a civil society organization that advocates the rights of all players in the agricultural value chain in the country, including farmers, processors, entrepreneurs, aggregators and transport providers.

Basic farming inputs such as fertilizer, agro-chemicals and seeds are reported to be expensive at various farm stores in Monrovia.

For example, a 50kg bag of fertilizer previously sold for US$40 is currently being sold for US$60, while a 1 liter agro-chemical which cost US$20 then is now sold for US$35. 15 grams of imported vegetables seeds is US$25 (US$10 in the recent past).

According to Mr. Bass, the high cost of farming materials is primarily due to import taxes levied on agricultural produce.

“I’m not too sure on whether previous policies aimed at reducing taxes on agricultural produce introduced by government include all farming implements. But basic farming materials like fertilizer should not be too expensive as local farmers really need it for crop production,” he said.

It can be recalled that sometime in 2015, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) formulated a policy lifting tariff on all agricultural materials to enable local farmers to purchase farming implements at affordable cost. But this policy seems not to be working as farmers and agro-dealers are still experiencing the high cost of farming implements on the local market.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bass has described the recent allotment of US$9 million for agriculture in the national budget as small, considering the numerous challenges still facing the country’s agricultural sector.

“We cannot accelerate growth in the agricultural sector in the midst of such a funding. I think a huge portion of the money will go toward addressing salaries and logistical issues at MoA. To meet the technical needs of local farmers, it will require more than the amount allocated for agriculture. Although there is additional money coming from the international community for agriculture, the country cannot rely on such funding. Our government must take the lead to increase money in the budget every year for agriculture,” he said.

On land ownership in agriculture, Mr. Bass said FUN remains a strong advocate on land rights for rural people for farming purposes.

“We have always engaged concessionaires to involve the locals when it comes to getting land for concessional purposes so that there can be lands left for farmers to grow food. This advocacy is gradually making many rural communities peaceful,” he said.

the technical needs of local farmers, it will require more than the amount allocated for agriculture. Although there is additional money coming from the international community for agriculture, the country cannot rely on such funding. Our government must take the lead to increase money in the budget every year for agriculture,” he said.

On land ownership in agriculture, Mr. Bass said FUN remains a strong advocate on land rights for rural people for farming purposes.

“We have always engaged concessionaires to involve the locals when it comes to getting land for concessional purposes so that there can be lands left for farmers to grow food. This advocacy is gradually making many rural communities peaceful,” he said.

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