Since 2004, Liberia became a signatory to the Maputo declaration on food security which states that ten percent of each country’s budget be given for agriculture, Liberia is yet to align itself to the agreement.
Therefore, Liberian farmers have begun strategizing ways on how they can engage government to commit itself to the Maputo agreement, as well as other critical issues affecting farmers which, when addressed, they believe, will accelerate growth in the agricultural sector.
It is based this that over the weekend, more than 100 farmers from Bong, Nimba and Margibi Counties convened their first town hall meeting in Gbarnga, Bong County to find a way forward in presenting their concerns to the legislature to enact the needed policy.
Other issues identified besides the “Maputo Agreement” included, duty free reduction on taxes on agriculture inputs, access to agricultural loan for farmers at affordable rate and adequate time as well as the need for government to promote local produce at all public gatherings.
“There is a need that we engage our lawmakers at the county level on these critical issues that affect us. If there is no favorable response, than farmers can carry out a sit-in-action. We elected these people as our leaders, so they need to prioritize agriculture,” says Conscience Juah, a farmer from Margibi County.
“It is important that government demonstrates commitment to the Maputo Agreement, because it will help to increase farmers’ production and improve their lives. We must engage our lawmakers to implement the agreement,” Korto Mulbah from Bong County added.
Meanwhile, one of the facilitators told journalists that his organization believed strongly that these issues identified by the farmers, when presented to lawmakers and translated into possible policies, can greatly move the agriculture sector forward.
He said that the organization is driving the process on the issues by creating awareness through the mass media to increase understanding of the public and the government.
“We are advocating so that government can allot 10 percent annually in to the budget for agriculture to improve food security,” Bass said.