Liberia: Agriculture Fair Faces Cancelation Due to Lack of Funding



 — According to Deputy Agriculture Minister for Administration Precious K. Tetteh, the government did not appropriate money for the fair in the current national budget for agriculture.

The Deputy Agriculture Minister for Administration, Precious Tetteh has disclosed that the holding of the 2023 annual National Agricultural Fair for Liberia will not be possible due to the lack of funding.

According to Tetteh, the government did not appropriate money for the fair in the current national budget for agriculture, saying “The fair will not be held this year due to lack of funding.”

We don’t have any appropriation within the budget for it,” she told the Daily Observer via phone interview.

The disclosure about the fair’s cancellation was made following some stakeholders’ concerns about holding the event which provides farmers across the country the opportunities to showcase their agricultural products.

Liberia’s Agriculture Law enacted in 1971 mandates the Minister of Agriculture to issue regulations for and execute the holding of an annual National Agricultural Fair to showcase agriculture produce grown in the country.

The Fair provides an excellent forum to assess the food and tree crops grown in Liberia. It brings about competition among farmers as well as counties on their locally grown products and prizes are awarded.

Agribusinesses also showcase their plant-based products – food, drinks and cosmetics – locally produced and goods that are being exported.

Farmers, agro-processors, agriculture concessionaires, development partners, financial institutions and agro value chain producers also attend the fair.

This is going to be the second time the Ministry has not been able to stage the fair since it became active in 2021. The fair has been dormant for more than a decade and was reactivated under the administration of agriculture minister, Jeanine Milly Cooper. 

The 2021 fair was also attended by President George M. Weah and he announced US$16 million dollars as grants to assist farmers and agribusinesses in the sector. 

It can be recalled that after the successful hosting of the fair in 2021 in Suakoko, Bong County, the Ministry announced that it would hold the fair in 2022 in Kakata, City, Margibi County. The announcement of the 2022 fair named an organising committee chaired by the Deputy Minister for Regional Development Research and Extension, Dr. George Tee Forpoh. 

However, Minister Cooper also announced the holding of the 2022 fair last year during the observance of the World Food Day celebration in October. But the event was not held and the ministry provided no reason for its failure to host the fair. 

However, the country’s agricultural sector continues to suffer setbacks in many areas due to the lack of or limited public spending. In the 2023 budget the government has approved US$ 5 million to the agriculture sector with no direct money as subsidy for farmers and agribusinesses. The amount allocated for the sector is far below the Malabo benchmark for food and nutrition security.

Liberia became a signatory to the African food security framework in 2003 when it was referred to as the Maputo Declaration. The framework mandates every African government to allot 10 percent of the total national budget for agriculture.

The country has a great potential for agriculture development to reduce poverty, create employment and to increase export earnings. But funding for agriculture still largely depends on international partners with little impact shown.

Meanwhile, a private sector member, Micheal Geoge of the Rapid Food Production Initiative (RFPI), has been stressing the need for the holding of the fair.

George has often said that the fair is important so as to enable actors in the sector to showcase the level of changes taking place in the sector.