Stakeholders in the agriculture sector have validated the national Extension Advisory Policy and the strategic plan for the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) to improve the linkage of agricultural extension and research.
Both documents were validated on Monday in Monrovia under the Linking Extension and Research to Farmers for Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition project, which is being implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture with support from the European Union.
According to stakeholders, there is a demand to adequately deliver agricultural research and extension to improve the lives of farmers in order to ensure food security for the country.
The limited access to agricultural extension and research continues to impede productivity in the agricultural sector.
Speaking during the workshop on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Jeanine Milly Cooper, the Deputy Minister for Regional Development Research and Extension, Dr. George Tee Fohpoh said that there is an urgent need to strengthen agricultural extension so that it can provide innovative and scientifically based solutions for problems in the sector.
Forpoh mentioned that to make this happen, the government must provide adequate budgetary allocation to train and support more extension workers.
“Liberia’s extension services, like those in many other nations, have not yet realized the goal for extension." The MOA personnel are aged, understaffed, and, as well, challenged by the resources necessary for them to do their tasks not only effectively, but efficiently. Donor-funded initiatives and not-for-profits have risen to fill this void. However, most of these activities cease operations when funding terminates. Investment in agricultural training institutions that support extension workers' training and lead innovations, research, and development, coupled with the provision of adequate incentives to these extension personnel through budgetary allocation, could help to improve public sector extension and advisory services, as well as research actors,” the Deputy Minister for Extension eluded.
He said that the Linking Extension and Research to Farmers for Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition project is helping to strengthen agricultural research and extension systems to enhance agricultural productivity, and improve the incomes and livelihood of the farmers.
Speaking on behalf of FAO Country Representative Mariatou Njie, the Deputy Country Representative Octavius Quabo expressed FAO's commitment to support the Liberian government to improve the country's agricultural development.
Quabo said that FAO is in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture to implement the “Linking Extension and Research to Farmers for Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition” project in Liberia with the objectives of strengthening the country’s agricultural research and extension linkages and systems through the preparation of the extension policy and strategic plan for CARI.
He said both documents, supported by the government, will greatly improve the agricultural sector of Liberia.
“In this regard, two technical working groups were formed to review and update the agriculture extension policy and the CARI strategic plan. The two documents have been reviewed and updated, and they both call for the establishment, advancement, and management of an agricultural extension and advisory service and research that is pluralistic, demand-driven, market-oriented, and uses the Agriculture Innovation System method targeting the use of integrated agriculture research for development,” he informed the stakeholders.