In December 2022, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) jointly organized a technical workshop to review the results of the implementation of the IFAD’s Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP). The COSOP, approved in 2019 and covering the period 2020-2024, defines the framework for the strategic partnership and collaboration between the Government of Liberia and IFAD.
The overall goal of the Country Strategy is to increase income and employment opportunities for rural men and women while building resilience to climate change and food insecurity. It is organized around two strategic objectives, including enhancing the performance and inclusiveness of value chains that offer job opportunities, wealth creation, and food and nutrition security for rural people in poor households, women, and youth; and contributing to an enabling environment for pro-poor policy development to enhance the capacity of the public sector to deliver services to the rural poor.
At half way through the implementation of IFAD’s Country Strategy, it was foreseen to assess the results achieved, determine if any corrective measures need to be taken to make sure that the COSOP remains relevant and effective, and revise if appropriate its intended objectives, interventions, results, co-financing targets, and resource allocations.
Key government partners that participated in the workshop included the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the Ministry of Public Works (MPW), the Cooperative Development Agency (CDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS). Other development partners are the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank (WB), the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UN Women, and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Participants also included the representatives of the farmers’ groups, agribusinesses and private sector actors, civil society organizations members, and the academic and research institutes.
Partial view of development partners
IFAD, based in Rome, resumed operations in Liberia in 2009 following a 20-year suspension. Currently, in Liberia, IFAD is investing in cocoa, rice, horticulture, oil palm value chains, and rural road rehabilitation, taking into account mainstreaming themes such as gender, youth, nutrition, environment, and climate change.
The projects include the Tree Crops Extension Project (TCEP), which aims to strengthen smallholder inclusion in the cocoa value chain in eight districts in Nimba County, while phase 2 of the Tree Crops Extension Project (TCEP II) focuses on seven districts in Lofa County. Additionally, IFAD also implements the Rural Community Finance Project (RCFP), which aims to improve access for the rural poor to financial services through rural community finance institutions, and the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P), managed by the World Bank and co-financed by IFAD, to support the integration of smallholder farmers into the rice, horticulture, and oil palm value chains.
IFAD Country Director for Liberia and Sierra Leone, Pascaline Barankeba, expressed gratitude for the cordial partnerships and cooperation with the Government of Liberia and other partners in the eradication of poverty and hunger in rural areas. IFAD Country Director noted that IFAD remains committed to support the government in this way by improving the livelihood of farmers, through value chain development, market linkages, and agricultural financing.
She highlighted the importance of partner’s coordination, capacity building of farmers' organizations, private sector and researcher’s engagement to transform the sustainable rural economies and food systems in Liberia.
In her address delivered remotely to participants at the workshop, Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper stressed the positive and strong relations that the country has with IFAD, and appreciated the results of the ongoing projects. She said for Liberia to remain relevant and compete with other countries in the cocoa sector, more focus should be placed on improving the quality of Liberian cocoa, particularly through better post-harvest practices. “This will add more value to the country's cocoa produce, making it ready for export. Support for cocoa in-country processing should also be considered, and cocoa should be produced using climate-smart agriculture and ensuring the certification of organic cocoa. There is a need to involve more private entities, making the agriculture sector more private sector driven,” she noted.
(L to R) Pascaline Barakeba, Country Director, Wilson Tarpeh,EPA Executive Director and Anthony Barclay, Asst. Minister of Agriculture
Representing the Ministry for Public Works, Assistant Minister for Technical Affairs Amos Y. Barclay, welcomed the collaboration with IFAD and the MoA and stated that road connectivity to markets is key for agriculture value chain development.
“The Ministry of Public Works will work with the MOA to improve collaboration for the rehabilitation of roads, noting that there will be a revision of contractor certification to identify eligible firms under the Ministry,” he said.
For her part, the Director of Aid Management Coordination at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Alice C. Williams, emphasized coordination between relevant agencies of government and the international partners, stating the readiness of the Ministry of Finance to support COSOP 2020–2024.
IFAD’s Programme Officer for West and Central Africa (WCA), Claudia Savarese, supporting Liberia, presented the goal and strategic objectives of COSOP 2020-2024 and provided an overview of the ongoing IFAD portfolio in the country.
Following presentations by the three working groups, participants at the workshop engaged in fruitful exchanges with the key conclusion that the COSOP is still relevant, effective, and perfectly aligned with national priorities, and that engagement with the private sector needs to be improved.