-- Land Authority chair urges Gov’t
The chairperson of the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) is calling on the government to directly fund agriculture through the national budget annually to support the sector.
Speaking during a recent workshop held in Buchanan City, Atty. J. Adams Manobah, Sr. said that the country’s agriculture will not move forward if it continues to remain donor-supported.
Agriculture has been spoken of as a priority for the development of the country since the end of the 14 years civil war. However, despite the pronouncement by previous and current administrations, most funding for the sector still comes from external sources. According to Atty. Manobah, the government should be able to fund its own agricultural programs and not to wait on donor funds.
He said that this is the time that the government must shift from donor projects to directly funding agriculture.
“If we are to wait for projects, the donors will decide areas where they think best to support that might not be in line with the country's development plan. The donors’ concentration might not be priority areas for the government and the citizens. This is now time the government should step out to make sure we go according to our development plan. However, this can happen provided the government put money into the budget to support programs for agriculture.
According to him, the annual budget for agriculture could go toward the development of the oil palm sector and other areas to create more jobs for the citizens without waiting for concessions to improve the economy in terms of job creation.
“We don’t need to wait for concessions to sign agreements with the community people. The citizens themselves must get the profit of their land through government sponsored programs,” he said.
Atty. Monobah added that the government should do all it can to make sure that the law of ownership on customary land is implemented.
Meanwhile, the Land Authority chair has also called on the government to revamp the Agriculture Cooperative Development Bank (ACDB). The ACDB existed prior to the Liberian civil war, affording many smallholders farmers to access loans in order to increase productivity in the agriculture sector.
According to Atty. Monobah, one of the major problems with the agriculture sector is that farmers lack collateral to access loans from commercial banks for the development of their lands.
“Even the farmers going to the banks to access loans do not have the collateral to show to get the loans they want. Sometimes, the deeds they have might not be genuine. The government should therefore ensure that there is more funding for the land right law to ensure that community people have access to their lands to improve their living conditions.
He stated that if agriculture will benefit the economy, the government will have to fund it at all costs.