Liberia: Agriculture Minister Declares Liberia’s Commitment to Feeding Africa



By Judoemue M. Kollie & Claudius T. Greene Jr.

Amidst the global food crisis, Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper says Liberia is already part of the solution to Africa’s food problems.

Speaking recently during the Feed Africa summit held in Dakar, Senegal, Minister Cooper said that the war in Ukraine was a wakeup call for Africans to realize that its sovereignty was not in its own hands.

She said during the summit that she was impressed by the expressions of African presidents about some of the things that they are already doing to feed the continent.

“What a fascinating conference this has proven to be! I meant it is where you hear African presidents talking about what they are already doing to feed themselves and their people, speaking from the heart. As you heard yesterday, they were talking about how they are making provision of grants to improve irrigation, duty waiver and tax policies, land rights for youths and women to produce more food and so many different ways that African leaders are imploring to feed the continent,” she stated.

Statistics show that 346.4 million Africans suffer from severe food insecurity; 452 million suffer from moderate food insecurity, conflict, climate variability and extremes; while economic slowdowns and downturns are the key drivers of food insecurity on the African continent. Like Liberia, several reports show that the country is still food insecure.

But the Liberian government still has an increased dependence on donor funding to support agriculture. The government is yet to ascribe to the Malabo framework for food and nutrition security that calls for every African government making an allotment of 10 percent of the total national budget for agriculture.

In Liberia, the government is currently mobilizing the private sector to drive agricultural transformation. Farmers and agribusinesses are benefiting from grants and other subsidies secured from international partners to support agriculture.  

More than 40 ministers of agriculture from the African continent were present at the summit. But Minister Cooper was among the only five African ministers of agriculture who addressed the three-day conference. Twenty heads of States including the President of Northern Ireland were in attendance. It was the biggest gathering of African Ministers of Agriculture and Finance along with continental stakeholders in food and agriculture interlinking with scores of global actors. 

The summit was under the theme, Food Sovereignty and Resilience. It was organized under the auspices of the African Development Bank.

Cooper said several of the African leaders spoke about going beyond food security to food sovereignty, noting that a group of people can be food secure but not sovereign.

The Minister indicated that food sovereignty is a food system in which the people who produce, distribute and consume food also control the mechanisms and policy of food productions and distributions.

She said that a country like Liberia, where she comes from, is now suffering the negative effects of the war in Ukraine.

“We also look forward to the wealth from Ukraine. But we even had to wake up to the fact that those are the countries that produce the food that we eat — the fertilizers, or the wheat or the flour that we do import and they needed it and were touched by the war. They do rely on it, so if they don’t have enough to eat, they won’t have enough to sell to us for us to eat,” she stated.

She said that the Liberian government looks forward to working with the private sector building synergies to increase food production.