Trained 32 Rice Processors in Business Skills
International NGO Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture-Liberia (CNFA-Liberia) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture are working to build the capacity of rice processors to commercialize locally produced rice in the country. Recently, CNFA-Liberia and its partners trained 32 rice processors chosen from Lofa, Grand Bassa, Bomi, Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount counties in business management skills. The trainings were conducted in Voinjama, Lofa County from July 17 – 19, 2017 and in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County from July 21 – 23, 2017.
The project is part of a US$2 million Ebola recovery support from the government of Japan to the people and government of Liberia under the Japanese Rice Grant (J-Rice) through IFAD that seeks to support rice processors to attain full scale commercial rice processing that guarantees reliable markets for smallholder rice farmers and increase their income earning capacities. CNFA-Liberia is to shortly embark on the construction of two large prefabricated warehouses to install two state of the art integrated rice mills in Voinjama and Foya districts in Lofa County.
During the workshop overview, Mr. Victor Ngorbu, Co-Investment Fund manager and Component Two Lead at CNFA-Liberia, stated that with the provision of the two integrated rice milling machines in Lofa, the processing capacities of the two rice milling enterprises will be upgraded to produce 20 metric tons (800 25kg bags) of high quality parboiled rice a day.
It can be recalled that in 2016, John Selma of the “Selma Agriculture Development Incorporated” and Mohammed Kamara of the “Agriculture Infrastructures Investment Corporation” signed a cost-share agreement with CNFA-Liberia to bring to Liberia two state of the art integrated rice processing mills for their operations. The two integrated rice milling machines are equipped with fully automated milling systems that have the capacity to properly pre-clean and de-stone paddy rice and parboil and dry paddy rice through heat exchangers; de-husk paddy and polish milled rice properly; sort the milled rice by color and length; and package the final product of high quality milled parboiled rice into 25Kg and 50Kg bags. Mr. Ngorbu added that an additional nine (9) smaller rice milling machines will also arrive in Liberia to be operated by existing rice hubs in Nimba, Bong and Montserrado counties. Liberia imports roughly 300,000 metric tons of rice, spending nearly US$200 million annually, to meet local demand for high quality milled rice.
The CNFA-Liberia Co-Investment Fund manager said that they hope to reduce rice imports by 30 percent in 2020, adding: “This is expected to increase the income of many smallholder farmers and improve food security.” He also disclosed during the workshop that under the project, smallholder farmer organizations and rice aggregators and processors will be linked to commercial banks and micro-finance institutions to access investment capital that would enable them to expand their enterprises.
Emmanuel Lincoln, project manager for CNFA/IFAD/J-Rice, cautioned the beneficiaries to make appropriate use of the skills acquired to increase food production and reduce poverty. He stated that the partners’ collaboration is expected to increase the income of farmers by expanding rice production and processing in the targeted counties.
Meanwhile, additional topics deliberated during the workshop include the importance of using right rice varieties for milling; gender mainstreaming and youth in agribusiness; entrepreneurship; sustainable agribusiness; and environmental best practices.