President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has inaugurated the first industrial rice processing and warehousing facility in Kakata, Margibi County.
Fabrar Liberia Inc., the agriculture entity which operates the facility, is a fully incorporated, Liberian-owned and run agriculture holding firm created in 2009 to tackle food insecurity in Liberia by improving the livelihood of farmers and providing them with increased access to domestic and international food markets.
Speaking at the facility’s official inauguration, President Sirleaf said Fabrar’s initiative represented a major step forward in the country.
She conceded that the country has paid a lot of attention to its mineral resources, shipping logs and iron ore without paying much attention to the agriculture sector. She described agriculture as a very expensive enterprise and because of that the country has left it to small farmers. This is why we are the major importers of rice, she acknowledged. But it is possible for each of us to contribute something to our country by undertaking such initiatives,” she said.
The President praised the group for its persistence and determination over the five years it took to own its first rice processing facility. “I’m glad that Liberia has its first industrial rice processing and warehousing facility, which stands to benefit the citizens. I want to see more industrial processing plants that will create job opportunities,” she added.
US Ambassador Debora Malac urged Liberians to take responsibility in bringing changes the country needs.
She said the US government is committed to working with Liberians in promoting agriculture in the country. “With the amount of fertile land, there is no reason why Liberians are not able to feed themselves. This is why everybody must take responsibility by bringing in the change that will benefit the country,” said the US ambassador.
She disclosed that her government’s support to Fabrar is based on the continued cry of hunger by the people.
The US Ambassador called on the private sector to work closely with farmers as more opportunities will be given to help make Liberia a better country in terms of food production.
At the same time, the Chief of Party of the United States Agency for International Development Food and Enterprise Development (USAID FED), Madam Agnes Luz, reaffirmed her organization’s support to the country by providing financial and technical support in order to reduce hunger in the country. She stated that USAID FED will continue to increase the agricultural productivity and profitability of food crops (rice, vegetables, cassava and goats) and stimulate the enterprise development and build the agriculture workforce.
Madam Luz disclosed that in 2014, with financial and technical support from the U.S.Government, through the USAID FED program and private equity financing from West Africa Venture Fund, Fabrar was able to procure an automated rice processing plant and expanded its warehouse facilities.
The newly industrialized facility, she said, will double its previous capacity and can mill 30 metric tons (MT) of rice each day and store 1,000 metric tons with proper ventilation and protection from pests, fungus and mildew.
“Our program is in six counties — Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong and Montserrado, working with farmers to improve their living conditions,” USAID FED Chief of Party stated.
Fabrar CEO, Mr. Fabio Lavelanet, said his industry was established to tackle food insecurity; improving the lives of farmers and providing them with increased access to domestic and international food markets.
Lavelanet disclosed that the rice processing industry will provide easy access to Liberians getting food in the market, adding that his organization will market the rice to local consumers throughout the country.
He encouraged Liberians, including the famers to join the effort by working together for the betterment of the country.
“As the country’s largest rice processor and only industrial processor, Fabrar Liberia Inc. will provide Liberian farmers with an incentive and motivation to grow quality rice and a business and not just for subsistence,” he added.
He disclosed that despite some challenges facing the industry, it will continue work in order to change food insecurity. He thanked the government and partners for their continued support to the industry, pledging that Fabrar will continue to provide quality rice for the country.