In an effort to improve food and nutrition security sustainably, Liberia and Sierra Leone have convened a blended learning program training for policy makers and representatives of some government ministries and agencies from both countries on Responsible Agriculture Investment (RAI).
The training workshop which was held recently at a local resort in Margibi County brought together about 40 participants from Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as participants from Rome and South Africa.
It is being organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Liberia with support from its headquarters organization in Rome Italy, and the German Federal Ministry.
The objective of the workshop is to enhance the capacities of government authorities in promoting agricultural investment in a sustainable way.
Speaking during the opening session on Monday, the Deputy Agriculture Minister for Planning and Development, Robert Fagans, called on the government of Sierra Leone and Liberia to see reasons to improve investment for agriculture to better the lives of their citizens.
“We must take agriculture investment seriously if we are to have a better nation,” he cautioned.
He said that Africa has all of the potential to boost food production, but what is really required is for African governments to invest more into the sector.
According to him, the way forward toward food sustainability is to put emphasis on those basic dimensions that talk about responsible agriculture investment. Minister Fagans, said the food systems of the African continent need to be built in such a way that food will be affordable for many of the citizens.
“We need to create a stable condition for our food system where the food can be produced to create revenues for the population, something I think we are able to do,” he explained.
“Agriculture investment is very important, but if not placed in the right way, we cannot get anywhere. This is why this workshop is necessary because it will teach our participants how to prioritize the resources, especially for the two countries,” he added.
Speaking earlier, FAO country representative, Madam Mariatou Njie, said the training on RAI training comes at the time when Liberia and Sierra Leone have gone through the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
“Due to the COVID, years of progress made to reduce poverty and hunger has been jeopardized,” she said.
According to her, statistics show that 38.9 percent of the Liberian population and 26.2 percent of the Sierra Leoneans are undernourished. Madam Njie, added that according to the World Bank, poverty has increased substantially due to the global pandemic.
“Many workers, particularly young women and men have lost their jobs and farmers have incurred substantial income losses, '' she explained. She said that due to the effect of the virus, FAO still remains committed to supporting agriculture.
According to her both Liberia and Sierra Leone need responsible agriculture investment to improve the food systems.
“We need to work together to stimulate investment for agriculture to improve food security and create jobs for women and youths,” she added. Madam Njie said that even prior to the pandemic Liberia and Sierra Leone's agricultural sector suffered low investment.
She used the occasion to describe the RAI workshop as a great milestone that enhanced the members’ capacities to promote responsible agriculture investment in the two countries.