The National Cassava Sector Coordinating Committee (NCSCC), an organization set up by the government to regulate the activities and development of Liberia’s cassava industry, has launched a data collection exercise on cassava that will encourage investment in the sector.
The data collection exercise is designed to reduce poverty in the lives of Liberian farmers, mainly those engage in production, processing and marketing of cassava products.
The launch of the data collection exercise was held last Saturday, in Paynesville, and was attended by stakeholders in the cassava sector, local farmers and officials of government.
Cassava is a major food security crop in West Africa. In Liberia it is the next staple food after rice and is consumed by many households. Henceforth, the government of Liberia and its partners are working steadfastly to increase the production of the crop in the country. The Ministry of Agriculture in November 2012 launched the first phase of a ten-year program that seeks to empower local farmers in producing cassava and rice to improve food security.
Speaking at the program, the NCSCC national coordinator, Joseph S. Morris, explained that there is no detailed information and analysis on the various actors in the value chain (producers, processors, marketers) of cassava in Liberia.
“There is a need that we gather information on the sector in order to encourage investment for economic development. We have had investors coming into the country wanting to get all necessary information regarding the cassava sector,” he said.
Without information, Mr. Morris said, it will be difficult for Liberian farmers to benefit from investment opportunities to improve the nation’s food security.
“We see that this effort to collect information will empower farmers to reduce poverty and improve food security, the government of Liberia’s primary goals,” he stated.
He further said that there is need for the formulation of policies that will enhance the production of cassava in the country.
Mr. Morris, however, said there are challenges facing the cassava sector that require government’s urgent attention.
He named such constraints as the lack of logistics and finance to carry out a nationwide awareness campaign and the organization operations.
“In order for the NCSCC to achieve its objectives, the government and development partners need to support the data collection exercise,” he suggested.
Meanwhile, in her keynote address, Liberia’s Agriculture Minister, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, urged Liberian farmers engaged in cassava production to adopt the new way to grow cassava for income improvement.
She said there are some improved cassava varieties that have been brought in to the country, that Liberians cassava farmers could take advantage of to make more money.
“In order to improve their lives and make the country self-sufficient, she said, “we want our farmers to grow cassava for business and no longer as subsistence,. Farmers can become successful in this direction if they change from the traditional to the modern method of cassava growing,” she said.