Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and other partners broke ground recently for the construction of the Selma Agriculture Development Cooperation (SADC) rice milling facility in Voinjama, Lofa County.
The other partners include J-Rice and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The value of the project is US$210,000.
The project is a major step under the US$361,000 MOA/IFAD/J-Rice grant financing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the MOA and IFAD to access funding for the construction of a large rice milling facility that will house a 10 metric ton per day rice processing machine.
The groundbreaking marked the beginning of the implementation of the construction of the milling facility, owned and managed by businessman John Selma, a rice farmer with several years of experience in rice production and supply to a number of organizations and the local market.
In an overview of the project, the Deputy Chief of Party for CNFA/LADA, Watchen Harris Bruce, appreciated ADI contractors for accepting the construction agreement despite numerous challenges. She said they were assisting LADA and its partners to create a market for local rice producers.
She added that the goal is to help improve local entrepreneurship, and confirmed that the project is a partnership with IFAD and the Japanese Government.
John Selma, the direct beneficiary, lauded the collaborating organizations on the project and expressed his continuous commitment to finding solutions to rice market challenges faced by farmers through processing and job creation.
“This is a humble beginning and we can assure you that our efforts in working with partners will improve food security and bring about poverty reduction in the lives of the people of this country. We are grateful to CNFA, the Japanese government, and IFAD through the MOA for such an initiative,” he added.
The International Food and Agriculture Development (IFAD) through the Ministry of Agriculture was represented by Princetta Clinton-Varmah.
IFAD is a U.N. organization for the development of smallholder farmers. It is represented in Liberia by the MOA and given over US$75 million in grant to support various agricultural projects in the country. Currently, IFAD operates five agricultural projects in Liberia. In the past, it supported the Bong County Agriculture Development Project (BCADP) and others.
CNFA/LADA Chief of Party, Wim van Campen, extended thanks to all present for embracing the initiative and described it as a new day in Liberia that will bring out more opportunities for rice farmers and serve as a first step to reduce rice importation in the Liberian market.
“Now is the time that we need to improve the capacity of Liberian rice farmers so as to reach the benchmark of countries like Guinea, Senegal, etc. This will require that farmers have access to improved seeds, modern processing machines and storage in order to increase productivity,” he stressed.