About 14 technicians chosen from 11 Government ministries and agencies as well as the Legislature has been trained to ensure responsible agriculture investment for the improvement of food security and poverty reduction in the country.
The training, which lasted for one month, was conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the aim of training technicians who will work with various ministries and agencies mainly associated with agriculture to ensure better investment in the agricultural sector to accelerate growth.
Liberia’s agriculture over the years has largely depended on funding from international partners with very little allocation made in the national budget. This has impeded growth in the sector to some extent as many smallholder farmers and other value chains are lacking adequate support to improve agriculture productivity.
Making the presentation at the end of the training working held at a local resort in Monrovia over the week end, Numene Reeves, Assistant Director for Planning Development and Coordination at the Ministry of Finance Development Planning (MFDP), said that for the country to develop, it shall require responsible investment in the agricultural sector.
He said that it is important that the government invest more in the sector to improve food security and to reduce poverty in the lives of the citizens, especially rural people whose lives depend primarily on agriculture.
“If a country is not food secure, there is no way it can reduce poverty. So this workshop was important to enable the participants to understand what is meant by investing more in agriculture to seek government’s attention toward the process,” said Reeves.
According to him, for the last few months, the participants have learned how to communicate the issues of agricultural investment in strategic areas like youth empowerment and incentives for farmers and agricultural value chains.
Reeves mentioned the training program provided an insight for the participants to understanding the need for creating the enabling environment which should be aligned with the sustainable development goals for poverty reduction.
“All of the participants from various ministries and agencies have understood the need for investing more in agriculture, something that they are going to champion at their various workplaces,” he added.
According to Reeves, there is a need for policy makers to introduce policies that can enhance agricultural growth.
He said that there is a need for coordination among various government ministries to advance some of the recommendations coming from the workshops.
For his part, Internal Affairs Minister, Varney Sirleaf, said supporting agriculture with increased investment will bring about prosperity within the country.
“I support what you are doing because this how can bring agricultural prosperity. If you are trained as technicians, it is incumbent upon us to support you,” he told the participants at the workshop.
Mr. Sirleaf said considering the need to help improve food security, his ministry last year signed an MOU with the Ministry of Agriculture to promote communal farming, the implementation of which has impacted several communities in rural Liberia.
“Communal farming increased the production of food during the administration of former President Samuel Doe, something that we wish to continue. The last year we made 365 farms and proceed from the farms went toward the improvement or rehabilitation of in schools and clinic projects. When we support agriculture we contribute to food security and reduce poverty,” he said.
“This best way to do agriculture it is through such a program that you have introduced. So we, as policymakers, need to support your endeavors. We cannot achieve food security and improve the food system if the capacities of the people are not built, which require increased investment,” he added.
He used the occasion to urged the technicians to use the knowledge acquired from the workshop to ensure better investment for agriculture at various ministries and agencies associated with agriculture.
“This program is a blended learning program and something that we need to push. I don’t want you guys to sit with the knowledge. You need to always knock at our doors. We want to see agriculture transformation so the issue of responsible investment is something we cannot take lightly,” he added.
The Representative of Montserrado County District #1, Lawrence Morris, expressed his delight to participate in the training workshop and promised to use the knowledge acquired to advocate for better investment for agriculture at the Legislature.
“I am a lawmaker, but I decided to be a part of this training workshop so that I can push the issue of responsible investment at the level of parliament,” he mentioned.
Representative Morris, who Co-chairs the House Committee on Agriculture, called on stakeholders to enhance coordination, so as to avoid duplication of functions and ensure responsible investment for agriculture.
The various ministries and agencies that participated in the one-month training workshop on responsible investment for agriculture include the Ministry of Finance Development Planning; Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection; Environmental Protection Agency; National Investment Commission; Ministry of Youth and Sports; the Ministry of Internal Affairs; Liberia Revenue Authority; Ministry of State and the Liberia Land Authority. The Legislature was also represented.