Liberia’s Agriculture Minister, Jeanine Cooper, has announced that her ministry is committing US$6 million toward the Accelerated Community Development Program (ACDP) to assist beneficiaries.
Cooper made the disclosure recently in Monrovia, when the government of Liberia in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) turned over 14 tractors and trailers as well as basic tools and processing equipment to farming cooperatives and other beneficiaries in Bong, Rivercess and Gbarpolu counties.
“The ACDP is the vision of President George M. Weah to better the lives of rural citizens. This is just the beginning of what he wants to do for his people. Looking at the agricultural component that is being developed through the Ministry of Agriculture, we are putting in US$6 million to assist 40 communities accelerate agricultural productivity,” she said.
The ACDP is a five-year ambitious flagship program of the Liberian government being implemented by the UNDP in collaboration with key line government ministries and agencies. It seeks to mobilize funding from government and development partners.
Its overall goal is to address real pressing needs of the most vulnerable rural populations in the areas of agriculture, roads, energy, education and water and sanitation to reduce poverty while accelerating socio economic development in rural communities.
The program was launched by President Weah in October 2022, making a commitment of US$100 million for the first three years of its implementation.
This model has been implemented in several countries including Senegal, Togo, The Gambia and Congo, proven to be results oriented, according to UNDP.
Liberia’s agricultural minister has described the ACDP as an approach that is holistic and very much ideal to solving the food insecurity problem facing the country.
Speaking at the handover ceremony last Thursday, Louis Kuukpen, UNDP, Deputy Resident Representative for Program, mentioned that currently the government has made an initial contribution of US$3 million toward the program.
Minister Jeanine Cooper and the Minister for States and Presidential Affairs, Wesseh Blamo receive keys and terms of agreement documents from the UN officials.
He said that the machines and processing equipment delivered to the beneficiaries are valued over US$600,000 and will be used to add value to produce and to help expand the agricultural base of each of the beneficiary communities.
Kuukpen also indicated that as part of the program activities, the construction of ten solar powered multipurpose boreholes has commenced and drilling and pump testing of water for the first borehole is now completed in Donfa, Bong County.
According to him, the drilling of the remaining boreholes is currently ongoing in Rivercess and Gbarpolu counties and is expected to be completed by early October 2023.
“The boreholes will address challenges of access to safe drinking water by communities and for irrigation. It will also reduce security issues for women and children vulnerable to gender based violence while traveling a long distance in search of safe drinking water,” he disclosed.
He further stated that the ACDP will build on the gains made so far and accelerate the repair of 39 hand pumps and the construction of 14 new hand pumps and additional 5 solar powered multipurpose bole holes in new communities.
“The program will also construct storage and processing facilities fully equipped with offices for agricultural cooperatives, construct 10 decent gender sensitive toilets and procure additional basic farming tools and other things,” he said.
However, the UNDP Deputy Representative said there is more work to be done and as such resource mobilization is very much key toward the effort.
“I would therefore like to request the support of the government and our development partners in ensuring that additional resources are mobilized to address the challenges,” he stated.
He reassured his institution’s commitment in ensuring that the ACDP contributes to the challenges of food insecurity, safe drinking water, and affordable energy for the rural poor.
The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, G. Wesseh Blamo, said that the program is a testament of the President’s dreams to reduce equality in the lives of rural people.
He said that with sustainable practices of agriculture, poverty can be alleviated.
“We are looking ahead of this vision with confidence. This is to enhance the innovation that will encourage farmers to actively participate in agriculture,” he said.
Blamo used the occasion to express gratitude to the UNDP for their continuous support to the development of the country and called on other development partners to contribute toward the success of the ACDP.
Meanwhile, beneficiaries have thanked the Liberian government and UNDP for the introduction of the program.
Beneficiaries who spoke to the Daily Observer said that they were tired of making farms with cutlasses and hoes, which they said was only keeping them in poverty.
“We have been wishing for change in our farming activities. Liberia at this age and yet can’t feed itself is very worrisome,” said Moingbeh Kamara of the Totoquelleh Agriculture Development Association (TADA) in Gbarpolu County. “Therefore, we came together to work as a cooperative. With these farm machines and processing equipment we will be able to produce more food for the market.”
A woman farmer, Musu George of the Kpatolee Farmers Cooperative in Bong County also said, “We are very happy for the wonderful works. We have worked manually and without money making it very difficult to support our families.”