One hundred youths have completed an 18-month agricultural training in Bentol organized by the Center Songhai Liberia Initiative (CSLI).
During the graduation program held on Wednesday, the resident representative of the UNDP, Antonio Vigilante, told the graduates to make use of their skills.
He encouraged them to go into the private sector. “In my view, the private sector must be seen as a critical arm because there is greater benefit in agri-business,” he said.
He reminded the graduates that the agri-business and technical skills they have acquired could help make them successful in the future if they take advantage of and explore opportunities related to their field.
“Make use of your skills because you can transform lives for the better,” Mr. Vigilante urged, emphasizing that agriculture has a huge potential for the development of the country.
Mr. Vigilante added that the CSLI would not be sustainable if the initiative does not partner with the private sector to make the center vibrant.
Mr. Vigilante said support partners must make available microfinance loans as a prime indicator to helping entrepreneurs in Liberia.
Liberia continues to depend heavily on the export of rubber and iron ore whose prices on the world market have declined, he said.
“Our approach at the moment is to attach entrepreneurships at institutions that will continue to expand to other parts of the country,” Mr. Vigilante said.
He urged these institutions to help each other by democratizing their businesses in order to empower them.
“Extensive external support and state sponsored assistance would not make the CSLI sustainable, but the collective effort of all trainees and other stakeholders in Liberia can make some significant difference,” Mr. Vigilante said.
“It is our wish that we will assist CSLI so it will expand, be independent and sustainable and move away from the dependency syndrome in the years to come.”
Earlier, CSLI Program Director, Christopher K. Fayia, made a power-point presentation outlining some of the success stories of previous training sessions.
He said past graduates continue to make impacts through small business enterprises in their various communities.
Mr. Fayia intimated that CSLI has a land area of 1,500 acres at Bonzu Community that comprises of 28 villages where the center conducts its agric-business training courses.
He indicated that CSLI’s objective is to transform rural Liberia into becoming competitive in agriculture and other businesses.
Shedding light on the challenges, Director Fayia said the CSLI needs funding to ensure sustainability for training young Liberians. “We need vehicles to convey our trainees and staff to our activities on the farm,” Director Fayia added.