The World Bank has expressed dismay over the manner in which agriculture is neglected by African governments across the continent.
Though a few countries on the continent are making headway in agriculture, the WB said many others, including Liberia, are yet to invest substantially to improve the sector.
The regional taskforce team leader of the World Bank West Africa Project, Abdulai Toure, said the Government of Liberia should now see the need to commit more funding to the sector in order to make it more vibrant and productive.
The agriculture sector, with more investments, is capable of taking Liberians out of poverty.
The WB team leader noted that the Liberian government should invest in human capacity, technology and provide financial programs that will solely be dedicated to agriculture.
If these are done, he noted, the sector would transcend from its present state of under-performance to a better level that will bring improvement to the living conditions of the people.
The WB official made these comments over the weekend when he addressed a joint press conference along with Agriculture Minister, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, at the Ministry’s head office in Gardnersville, outside Monrovia.
Mr. Toure, along with a team, was in the country to access the impact of the Ebola Virus Disease and to see how the bank could help through the West African Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP).
He also took the opportunity to pay field visits to WAAPP project sites in the country.
Mr. Toure stated that Liberian government’s failure to promote agriculture contravenes the Malabo Declaration, to which it is a signatory. The Malabo Declaration is an agreement among African leaders to spend at least 10% of their national budgets on agriculture.
He noted that he was impressed with the level of work that is being done by WAAPP, especially its cassava production in Bomi County.
Minister Blames Legislature, Government
Minister Chenoweth, for her part, expressed frustration over government’s failure to adhere to the Malabo Declaration blaming the Legislature for not paying attention to the sector.
She said the Liberian government has not supported the sector, which has the potential to absorb as many employees, especially young people, as possible with the potential to contribute substantially to Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product, (GDP).
She said there is, and has always been the need for the Liberian government to shoulder its responsibility and support the agriculture sector.
Minister Chenoweth however disclosed that the government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has pledged a commitment of investing US$35 million in the sector in order to boost its capacities and productivity.