As part of its efforts to improve food security, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), through its donor funded projects, has strengthened the capacities of several institutions from the government and private sectors with different kinds of equipment to enable them to deliver quality services within the agricultural sector of Liberia.
The equipment includes vehicles, earthmoving equipment, office furniture and equipment, generators, and lubricants, among other essential items.
Institutions that benefited include the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), the National Standards Lab (NSL), the National Rice Federation of Liberia (NRFL), the Association of Liberian Oil Palm Farmers, Inc. TALOPFI, the National Cassava Sector Coordinating Committee (NCSCC), and the Liberia Vegetable Sellers Association (LVSA).
Others are the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) and the Department of Regional Development, Research, and Extension (DRDRE) of the MOA, and the National Oil Palm Platform of Liberia (NOPPOL).
The total value of the items presented over the period is valued at approximately US$372,000. The CDA and the NSL are expected to be presented with vehicles late in January 2023. CARI received a tractor and three motorbikes in October 2022.
The presentation is intended to boost coordination between the MOA, through its Project Implementation Unit (PIU), and government and private sector actors within the agricultural sector, as well as strengthen their capacities to deliver quality services to mainly farmers, processors, and aggregators.
The PIU currently implements the World Bank-funded Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP), which focuses on cassava, piggery and poultry, rubber, and vegetable value chains, and the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization (STAR) Project, funded by the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which focuses on the oil palm, rice, and vegetable value chains.
STAR-P Operations Manager Steven Marvie (2nd from left) presents items to members of the Liberia Vegetable Sellers Association (LVSA).
Presenting the items to the MOA Asset Director Munah Nmah for subsequent submission to the various recipients, RETRAP Operations Manager Tarnue N. Jeke said the action is in fulfillment of an agreement reached by the MOA, represented by the PIU, and the various agriculture value chain organizations and government institutions.
"As we have agreed in the MOUs, these items are intended to help your various institutions improve the quality of services that you deliver to the farmers and processors in the various value chains that both our projects are involved with. The MOA is doing this because all of us, as sectoral actors, have the same goal: to improve and increase productivity and create products for market purposes that will eventually put money in the pockets and bank accounts of our beneficiaries, who are the farmers, processors, and agro-dealers,” he said.
He also called on the CDA specifically to fast-track the process of supporting farmer-based organizations to become full-fledged cooperatives.
Director Nmah noted that the MOA is fully committed to supporting recognized farmers and farming groups that have exhibited clear potential to transform the agriculture sector for economic gains.
In response, the Deputy Registrar General for Gender, Youth Participation, and Program Development at the CDA, Mohammed K. Jalloh, said the support from the MOA and development partners to key actors in the sector will boost the capacities of the receiving institutions that are executing their various mandates to transform struggling farming actors into viable institutions that will be recognized.
“Farming is a business, and until these smallholder farmers that are targeted under the projects receive the right support at the right time, the aim of transforming their activities into full-blown businesses will not be achieved. But I am glad that the process is well underway with interventions of this kind, as demonstrated by the Ministry of Agriculture through its donor projects,” he said.
For his part, the President of the National Rice Federation of Liberia (NRFL) recounted the numerous gifts of support the MOA has already given his institution and others.
Mohammed Kamara said the NRFL is grateful for the donation. “We can count the different rice mills and processing facilities built or supported by the MOA around the country. We can also refer to several matching grants, farming tools, processing, and inputs that have already been given to rice producers and processors to boost our production, as well as many other interventions by the MOA. These actions are in the right direction, especially with the mandate to increase rice production, processing, and packaging as a result of the recent crisis the country faced when we had a shortage of our staple food, rice”, he said.
Both projects at the PIU are aimed at improving agricultural productivity, commercialization, and market access for smallholder farmers and agri-enterprises in selected value chains across 13 counties in Liberia. With the expectation of additional financing, the projects are expected to extend full operations to the remaining two counties, which include River Gee and River Counties. Currently, Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) in both counties can apply for grants under the Liberia Agriculture Commercialization Fund (LACF). LACF ensures the effective and efficient delivery of matching grants to agribusinesses, including smallholder farmers and processors with viable and profitable business plans who also demonstrate that they have the capacity to match the grant through assets and cash and are involved with any of the projects’ value chains or acceptable agricultural inputs.