Agriculture Minister Calls on Donors to Align Funded Projects with National Priorities

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Minister Cooper (center) seated with visiting IFAD mission to Liberia.

The Minister of Agriculture has called on donors to align agriculture projects with national priorities for the development of the agriculture sector instead of setting priorities that do not benefit the sector or country.

In a conversation with Jakob Tuborgh, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) Manager for Liberia and Niger, Minister Jeanine Cooper said it is frustrating that the Rome-based organization project is not aligned with the government’s national development strategy that seeks to impact farmers.

Min. Cooper added that the IFAD’s funded projects which focus on cocoa are not in alignment with the overall cocoa development strategy of Liberia, but “only concentrated on specific location leaving out other counties and relevant private sector actors.”  

 “The Government of Liberia must be the one to set projective priorities for agriculture development rather than being told to come on board to implement projects. Now, it is the time for us to decide what we want and not what we should be told to do,” Minister Cooper told the visiting IFAD’s Mission delegation to Liberia.

According to an MOA press release, IFAD Liberia’s project portfolio is the highest donor-funded project in the agriculture sector followed by the World Bank and African Development Bank.  The IFAD US$47.6 million Tree Crops Extension Project (TCEP) which the Minister says has no alignment with the overall cocoa development strategy in Liberia, started in 2019 and focuses on enabling poor rural women and men to overcome poverty through farm rehabilitation and seedlings and training supports.

It targets 10,000 smallholder farmers and its aim is to raise their income by modernizing cocoa farming, increasing production, and developing markets. The TCEP project is a six-year project in eight districts in Nimba County which kicked off in 2017, while the TCEP-II started in 2019 and ends in 2024 with a focus on six districts in Lofa County.

Aside from the TCEP-II, the Minister also raised concerns about the impact of IFAD finances Rural Community Finance Project (RCFP) that seeks micro-credit financing for petty traders, smallholder farmers, food processors among others who demonstrate interest and willingness to expand their economic activities.

RCFP is a microfinance project jointly implemented by the Central Bank of Liberia and the MOA. It commenced in 2017 after a Financing Agreement was entered into with the GOL in 2016. The Project is located in eight counties: Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Kru, Lofa, Nimba, River Gee, Rivercess, and Sinoe.

IFAD co-financed the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) with the World Bank. STAR-P is a seven-year project under the MOA that kicked off in 2018 and will end in 2024.

The project aims to increase agricultural productivity and commercialization of smallholder farmers engaged in rice, vegetables, and oil palm value chains in nine of Liberia’s fifteen counties namely, Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland and Nimba,” the MOA release said. In response to the Minister, Tuborgh, said, “The Mission is here to find solutions in ensuring its funded projects are well implemented and prepared to work with the GOL on projects alignment in achieving IFAD and Government goals.

Author

  • George Harris is one of the handful journalists passionately covering agricultural issues including fisheries in Liberia. He has been sharing agricultural and related stories with our company since 2016. George Harris holds a diploma in Journalism and a bachelor's degree in agricultural science.

1 COMMENT

  1. Alright Madam Minister, instead of taking it on the people at Rome that are trying to help, why not have the regime layout its own priorities concerning agriculture developments in that country. Your frustrations are not with Rome, but with both the Executive and Legislative branches of the regime. And on your part, kind of afraid to present anything or any personal priorities of your own ahead of the regime that has no clue on agriculture. And so in your view, the people in Rome are responsible for the lack of the regime’s priorities. It is easy to see and understand that all front lines Ministries must fall in line as a team player. And George only have the ears of his closet inner circle. And the frustration being felt shows that you are not one of them. It seems that you are of the opinion that if Rome should present a proposal directly to the regime, the regime without a doubt accept it because of the money involved. And on your part, you can not take your frustrations directly to the people. And there is no one in the regime interested in knowing about agriculture priorities. The regime is looking for quick financial resources without attachment or oversight from outside sources. Can’t fault you Madam Minister, but it is a good thing to look around and see most lawmakers operating their own agriculture programs on their personal farms. The previous regime heads, both the former President and Vice President, they have their own agriculture programs for their personal farms. Present and former lawmakers all have their personal farms. But the nation lacks a national agriculture policy. And the people in Rome have never seen one from the regime of George. One that is approved by the cabinet and presented to the legislature. None at all. Madman Minister, try putting forward a national agriculture policy to be implemented by the regime, and see how far that will go. No don’t take your frustrations on the people in Rome. They themselves and like you do not know much about the national agriculture policy of the regime. All they perhaps know is, George workie, workie in his studio. Your frustration is felt beyond reasonable doubt. Talk to the regime about your view on a national agriculture policy. That’s all you can do for now. One thing though, you are late to catch up with the lawmakers. Those fools say they are on break. Oh Well, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ! Like they say over there, don’t hurt your head. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !

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