The European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia has provided 2 million Euro to strengthen extension services and research for smallholder farmers across the country in order to ensure sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security.
The initiative was made known when the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday, January 14, at the new office of the MOA, located at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, Monrovia.
The 3-year Project, “Linking Extension Research to Farmers for Sustainable Agriculture Food Security and Nutrition”, will be implemented by the FAO in collaboration with MOA and the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI).
Extension delivery Service and research still remain a major constraint for the country’s agricultural sector. Many smallholder farmers across the country are lacking extension service, thus causing low productivity in the sector.
Theodorus Kaspers, head of cooperation for the EU Delegation to Liberia, told participants at the ceremony that targeting the improvement of agricultural extension is the surest way to improve food security in Liberia.
“I wonder why this country cannot be food secured with the kind of vast agricultural potential. Food security and nutrition is a most fundamental issue, this is the reason several institutions are involved,” he said.
He said that the EU has found confidence in FAO to implement the Extension project because of her ability to successfully carry out previous projects.
“I hope the collaboration of all the partners involved will enable this project to achieve its desired goal,” he cautioned.
According to him, the EU remain supportive to Liberia’s agriculture sector to reduce poverty in the lives of farmers.
“I want to inquire where the government stands on the PAPD for agriculture,” he asked.
Mariatou Njie, FAO Country Representative, said that the agricultural sector faces low productivity and as such, investment for extension is necessary to mitigate the challenge.
“To achieve a high standard of agricultural production the country has to have a strong research and extension systems. Therefore, this project provides an excellent opportunity to assist the government to tackle the root causes of poor agricultural performance for an improved food security and nutrition,” she said.
She stated that the project will further review, update and concretize the different elements of extension and research policies,” adding that it will reinforce the organizational and managerial capacities of both research and extension.
Meanwhile, the FAO Country Representative used the occasion to call on policy makers to fast-track the passing of the National Policy for Agriculture Extension and Advisory Services.
Ernest J. Clerke, Assistant Minister for Administration at the MOA, thanked the EU for its numerous supports to the agricultural sector.
He said the MOA with work closely with FAO and CARI to ensure the successful implementation of the project.