Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has officially launched the Co-Investment Fund (CIF) to buttress farmers’ efforts across the country.
The CIF will help improve agriculture in the country and is a US$3 million grant matching scheme that sets aside 30 percent of its investment for women owned businesses.
At the launching ceremony on Tuesday in Gbarnga, Mr. Boakai also opened the Bong County office of the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) and the Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA).
VP Boakai commended USAID, FTF and the CNFA for the initiative.
“The launch of the Co-Investment Fund program echoes the government’s repeated reminders to stakeholders that investment in agriculture should not be considered an exclusive preserve of the government,” he said.
VP Boakai said, “We need not look far to observe abundant evidence of the huge role private investment is playing in moving nations to self-sufficiency in food production.”
The Ministry of Agriculture, VP Boakai said, is true to its desire to maximize the potential in utilizing all resources available to entice investment from the private sector.
He hoped that the initiative will give support to strengthen LADA and USAID goals in the private sector.
He said there is no doubt that this is the key opportunity to create awareness of the critical need for the private sector to be involved in the provision of vital inputs like fertilizers, seeds and other agricultural supplies to farmers.
“This cannot be the job of government and the NGO/donor sector. And that is why we are so pleased that USAID has earmarked US$ 19.3 million for Feed the Future and LADA activity, which makes for an important initiative to strengthen the provision of private sector services to farmers for fertilizers, seeds and other inputs,” Mr. Boakai said.
He disclosed that with the MOA’s leadership, Liberia will maintain and even speed up its march on the course to producing what “we eat and produce. We surely know that the future of our nation lies not in the extractive industries but in agriculture.”
“We, therefore, re-echo our gratitude to USAID, FTF, CNFA, and all our farmers for this positive step that hopefully will whip up greater interest of private investors in agriculture. We have high hopes that this venture will be massively rewarding to our national effort at transformation,” he said.
US Ambassador to Liberia Christine Elders said US Feed the Future (FTF) initiative seeks to reduce global hunger and poverty by investing in food security and agricultural development in partner countries, and LADA will spur private sector investment in agriculture, reduce post-harvest losses and enhance access.
Amb. Elders said LADA works in partnership with the Liberian government towards its Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
She said most of Liberian farmers are engaged in farming techniques with little to no access to post-harvest services to boost productivity.
The ultimate goal of FTF program she explained is to increase the income of small holder farmers who are key to future economic growth and its task is to increase the number of farmers with access and training to use technologies such as irrigation, high yielding crop varieties and cold storage.
“We must improve farmer’s opportunities to store and to sell their increased production by improving rural infrastructure, especially by rehabilitating and maintaining farm to market roads.
“As we implement LADA related activities, we must also do everything we can to ensure that the benefits of post-harvest manufacturing processes which increase the value of crops remain in local communities,” she said.
Amb. Elders noted that post-harvest activities will produce a multiplier effect in the local economy and improve the lives of farming families across Liberia.
She challenged farmers to raise their sights and imagine what is possible with the right mix of agribusiness policies and incentives in their power to do as similar successful farmers who are now yielding good results.