The Minister of Agriculture Dr. Moses Zinnah has disclosed that his plan for the agriculture sector is to improve food sufficiency in the country.
Dr. Zinnah, in an exclusive interview yesterday with the Daily Observer at the Ministry of Agriculture in Gardnersville, described agriculture as the center of economic development adding that “It is time for Liberians to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. If done right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centered rural development and protecting the environment.”
Dr. Zinnah who was recently appointed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf following the resignation of Minister Florence Chenoweth, said it is time for Liberians to change the negative mindset of people that the Ministry is responsible for producing food. He made it clear that the responsibility of the ministry is to empower farmers in the country to boost production.
The responsibility of empowering Liberians to produce their
own food, he acknowledged, is very crucial at this time because 30 percent of the country’s revenues is spent on importation of food from other countries.
The ministry will work with farmers in all counties, empowering them to produce more food to minimize the importation of food, Minister Zinnah said.
“This ministry will put into place programs that will help boost the sector through maximum production of food in various food chains,” he said.
Another means of improving the agriculture sector is to upgrade the Center for Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) to enable it to carry out more research in a variety of food chains, said Dr. Zinnah.
“With more research at CARI our country will move forward because it is the research arm of the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister says he intends to work with the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) to bring in more youths to promote agriculture because they are the driving force to stimulate the sector.
“We will target the youth because most of our farmers are very old and when we work with the youth they will help boost the production of food and this will help save more money that is spent on importation of food,” he reiterated.
Mr. Zinnah is an agricultural and rural development expert with over 25 years of professional experience in working with individuals and teams in various institutional settings.
Giving his profile, Dr. Zinnah disclosed that in 2013, he was appointed Deputy Minister for Planning and Development at the Ministry of Agriculture where he provided leadership in the preparation and successful negotiation of several donor-funded agricultural development projects. Those projects are being funded by the African Development Bank, World Bank/IDA, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Japanese Trust Fund, Global Environmental Fund and the United Nations Development Program.
Prior to his appointment Dr. Zinnah served as the first Director of the Program Management Unit (PMU) and Coordinator of the Liberia Agriculture Sector Rehabilitation Project (ASRP), from June 2010 to March 2012 at the Ministry.
He was instrumental in establishing the Program Management Unit (PMU) which now supervises the management and implementation of nine donor-funded agricultural development projects at the Ministry of Agriculture.
Dr. Zinnah also served as the West Africa Regional Coordinator of a multi-stakeholder initiative [Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE)], set up by Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development and Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA).
His mandate at SAFE was to promote the reform of higher agricultural education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to enable them to develop and implement innovative, demand-driven agricultural extension programs for mid-career agricultural extension staff that work directly with smallholder farm families to improve their livelihoods.