AIIC‘s CEO Kamara asks GoL for duty-free to all farming equipment and inputs
The minister of agriculture, Dr. Mogana S. Flomo, Jr., was elated over the weekend upon his arrival in Kpasialloe Town, Foya District, Lofa County, where he had gone to officially perform the symbolic harvest of 200 acres of mechanized upland rice.
Gracing the launch of the gigantic farm, the excited Minister Flomo said the Agriculture and Infrastructure Investment Company (AIIC) has proven what is possible in Liberia to help make Liberia self-sufficient in food production.
“I think AIIC has challenged us as a people and government and they are proving to us that this is something that we can do; they are saying that we can feed ourselves,” the minister said.
Hailing company for the outstanding job, he said, “We say thanks to AIIC and we will continue to work along with you.” He also lauded partners of the farm’s operators, including Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture / Liberia Agribusiness Development Activities (CNFA/LADA), United States African Development Fund (USADF) and others for making it come to reality.
Dr. Flomo also informed the AIIC Chief Executive Officer, Mohammed V. Kamara, that the Government under President George Manneh Weah is committed to making sure “we feed ourselves as a country.” He added that President Weah has said this repeatedly that his focus is on lifting people from their poor conditions to better lives. “And this is a way that you can be able to express that,” the Minister said.
Dr. Flomo continued, “We ask you to take farming very seriously because it was a disgrace for a country like us to not be able to feed ourselves, and you told us that you were ready. So, today is proof of what you told us.”
Also speaking to reporters during the harvest in Foya, AIIC Chief Executive Officer, Mohammed V. Kamara said the harvest of the rice is a public partner initiative aimed at buttressing government’s efforts in increasing food security through the rice value chain.
He recalled that in May of this year, he was astonished by the visit of Minister Flomo to his site to launch the planting of the first mechanized rice farm in Foya District.
Kamara said he was motivated by the minister’s words of encouragement and through that, “we the farmers applied frantic efforts in producing what you are witnessing here today.” By this production, according to him, “we the farmers want to tell our partners that we can do even better when the needed support is given us.”
Kamara used the occasion to laud several personalities and partners who helped in making his dream a success. He said though there were some challenges along the way, the farmers never allowed those challenges to hinder their work. He also recognized some development partners like Government of Japan through the MOA, USAID/LADA, USADF and Chinese development partner LongPeng.
Kamara expressed gratitude to President Weah for prioritizing agriculture under the ‘Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity,’ noting that “we as farmers believe that the move is a step in the right direction for Liberia to be food secure.”
He said since the taking over as Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Flomo has visited all of the counties, sat with farmers, and understood their challenges and together, working to find solutions to their problems.
He added that the initiative has created employment opportunities for over 100 farmers. “We, therefore, recommend to the government and partners to help strengthen and support the Extension Services of the Ministry of Agriculture. The Extension Services under the MOA is key to the growth and development of the Agriculture sector in Liberia.”
Kamara recommended to the government to provide them access to finance that will help farmers migrate from subsistence farming to mechanized farming.
“We are also asking the government for duty free to all farming equipment and inputs. John Selma has 10 tractors impounded at the Freeport of Monrovia, we the farmers want immediate release through duty-free,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, in an interview, Mr. John Selma, president of the Selma Agricultural Development Corporation, confirmed that his ten tractors are presently impounded at the Freeport of Monrovia because he does not have U$6,000 to free them. He appealed to President George Weah to intervene to ensure that the tractors are released to his company.
The ceremony was attended by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, international partners including representatives from CNFA/LADA, USAID, USADF, Africa Rice Liberia and residents of Foya District.