— Agriculture Minister, IFAD Country Director tour project site
The availability of quality and improved planting materials for smallholder farmers in the cocoa sector of Liberia remains a primary concern of the Liberian government in promoting productivity in the sector.
Hence, the establishment of the National Cocoa Seed Garden (NCSG) is important to ensure quality certified hybrid seeds distribution to the farmers.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Tree Crop Extension Project, of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has established a 75-acre cocoa seed garden in Beeplay, Buuyao District in Nimba County for distribution of hybrid cocoa seeds and seedlings to farmers throughout the country.
The NCSG will guarantee the availability of improved, certified and quality planting materials to stop the importation of cocoa seedlings. Liberia has over the years depended on neighboring countries for cocoa seedlings.
Approximately 25,000 cocoa farmers, who are members of cooperatives across Liberia, will start accessing the seedlings from the Center at a reasonable cost. The Center will serve to address the constraint faced by smallholder farmers getting improved cocoa hybrid seeds locally for planting.
An agronomist compound and offices has been completed. The center is also poised for the introduction of improved technology of agroforestry for cocoa as relates to climate resilience agriculture practice to enhance farmers’ incomes.
On May 3, 2023, Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper accompanied by IFAD Country Director for Liberia and Sierra Leone Pascaline Barankeba and the IFAD Supervision Mission toured the national seed garden to ascertain the significant progress being made by the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) in managing the seed garden.
Other members of the minister’s entourage included the International Development Consultant, David Doolan, a scientist at CARI, Quoiquoi Mulbah, as well as IFAD Project Implementation Unit (PIU) Coordinator, Emmanuel G. Vah and among other dignitaries.
At the end of the tour, Madam Cooper said she was very impressed by the level of work being accomplished.
"The government is very much pleased about the level of transformation now taking place in the cocoa sector. We are working with international partners to ensure that Liberian cocoa competes globally," she said.
She stressed the need for Liberian students of agriculture to take advantage of the center to learn improved technologies of cocoa to support the effort of sustainability.
Also speaking, the project coordinator for IFAD, Emmanuel G. Vah, said the site and soil selected for the establishment of the seed garden was fully tested and proven to be suitable.
He said that the seed garden will enhance input supplies of cocoa seedlings and assist other beneficiaries along the cocoa value chain.