To build the capacity of Liberian farmers and other actors of the value chain for the enhancement of food security, the Liberia Agri-business Development Activity (LADA) on Monday, February 21, signed an agreement with two rice processors in Lofa County to upgrade their processing capacities.
The two rice processors are Mohammed Kamara of the Agriculture Infrastructures Investment Company (AIIC) and John Selma of the Selma Agriculture Development Corporation.
The signing ceremony coincided with the opening of LADA’s Lofa County field office in Voinjama and was attended by Lofa County Superintendent George Dunor, district authorities, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, farmers, processors and staff of LADA.
Speaking at the program, the Agri-business Private Sector Advisor of LADA, Mrs. Watchen Harris Bruce, said the initiative will transform the processors into industrial rice processors to provide quality and standard rice for both the local and international markets.
According to her, LADA intends to industrialize rice production in Liberia in order to improve the incomes of small holder farmers.
She said the selected processors are currently processing rice at 2 metric tons a day. But with the provision of the industrial milling equipment, the processors will have the opportunity to process rice to 10 metric tons, adding that it will create market opportunities for several farming communities.
“As we sign this agreement, we are beginning to procure rice mills to get the processors begin operation very soon. The agreement is on a 50 percent cost share arrangement that allows the processors to take full ownership of their businesses,” she said.
Mrs. Bruce indicated that Liberia spends more money on the importation of rice and so it is necessary to build the capacity of local processors to help reduce rice imports.
“There are plans to build capacities of additional processors in our targeted counties during the lifespan of our project to enhance processing,” she disclosed.
Lofa County Superintendent George Dunor thanked LADA for helping local farmers in his county and asked the beneficiaries to make maximum use of the opportunity.
“Our county is still striving to regain its status as the breadbasket so you, as citizens, must know that you are accountable to appropriately use the resources provided to ensure continuous assistance from partners,” he cautioned.
Representing the Ministry of Agriculture was the County Agriculture Coordinator of Lofa, Theophilius Baah.
Mr. Baah promised his office’s commitment to work with the rice processors to access better markets.
Mohammed Kamara and John Selma said that they “are grateful to LADA for the opportunity” and expressed optimism in working with farmers to improve their incomes.
Meanwhile, LADA has also refurbished the shop of a local agro-dealer in Voinjama City to reach farmers with necessary services.
The shop is equipped with various agro-chemicals such as insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers and other farming implement.
LADA is a US$20 million agriculture project sponsored by the United States Government under the Feed the Future global food security initiative with the goal to increase agricultural income through investment in the Liberian agri-business sector in Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Montserrado counties.