-Dr. Roland Massaquoi asserts
A Board Member of Agriculture Investment Network (AIN) Dr. Roland Massaquoi, described agriculture as the only opportunity that would make farmers rich and stabilize the country’s economy. As such, he stressed the need to encourage smallholder farmers to remain effective in food production.
Speaking over the weekend at the second celebration of the Agriculture Value Chain Day event organized by the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) and its Partner, Business Startup Center (BSC), through AIN, Dr. Massaquoi said it is important to create an enabling environment for potential farmers, thereby putting in place agriculture policies that will guide farmers along the way, so that Liberia, as a country, will be self-sufficient in food production.
“If this is done, farmers will not just produce any kind of food, but the ones that are qualified,” he said.
The program was held at the Paynesville City Hall under the theme, “Promoting Private Investment for Agricultural Value Chain Development and Sustainability.” It brought together value chain actors to showcase their products and services, establish business relationships with potential investors in agribusiness and encourage knowledge exchange.
LADA Acting Chief of Party Harris Ayuk-Takor informed the farmers that the event took into consideration the valuable role they have played in increasing private sector’s investment in the country’s agricultural sector.
The event brought together 26 exhibitors from Nimba, Bong, and Montserrado counties to exhibit their products from their rice, cassava, aquaculture, vegetable, and cocoa value chains as well as locally fabricated agro-equipment.
Mr. Takor said agriculture plays a major role in the growth and development of every nation; therefore, it is important during such programs to hear from smallholder farmers regarding major threat, encouraging them to overcome those challenges.
Founded by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) under the United States Feed the Future (FTF) program, LADA is being implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA).
FTF and LADA have expanded access and use of agriculture inputs as well as post-harvest handling, processing, packaging, and marketing.
William R. Dennis, II, Executive Director of BSC Monrovia, said over the past two years BSC and other partners have been able to work with agribusinesses. As such, it is important to call upon them to pitch their business ideas to investors and potential partners who he said may see their ideas and express interest in working with them in the sector.
Dennis said BSC and other partners want to do more, but it requires collective effort. BSC-Monrovia Is a locally registered business development firm operating in Liberia, initially established as a collaboration between the Association of Liberian Universities (ALU). The BSC Monrovia organizes activities and services to support entrepreneurship, job creation and poverty alleviation in the country.
However, John G. Selma smallholder farmers from Lofa County, said there are numerous challenges that hinder their production. He named the lack of machines and other farm equipment to increase productivity, storage facility, among others. He therefore pleads with partners during the program to help smallholders farmers, most especially those in the rural parts of the country, to be able to graduate from subsistence farming, if Liberia must be self-sufficient in food production.
Edward Galayi, a cocoa farmer, further said that the lack of access to loans for farmers in the rural parts of the country has been one of the major challenges that impede the smooth operation of farming; he also called on the Ministry of Agriculture (MIA) and other partners to promote farmers in the country.