The Government of Liberia (GOL) and a private Ghanaian firm, Abanga and Grace (A & G) Agro-Mechanical Industries, yesterday, September 9 at a resort in Monrovia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote mechanized rice production in the country.
The MOU is geared towards increasing domestic rice production, to ensure food security as well as create employment opportunities for citizens.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by a delegation from A and G Agro-Mechanical Industries, including Haruna Abdulai, Finance and Administration; Charles K. Annan, technical advisor; as well as a delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), which included Mr. Raymond Ogunti, project manager, and other government officials.
A and G Agro-Mechanical Industries is a grass-root, cost effective one-stop comprehensive farming/agriculture business solutions provider that envisions a world or society of sustainable growth, progressive development and economic self-sufficiency for each and every African citizen.
Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, Deputy Agriculture Minister for Regional Development, Research and Extension, signed on behalf of the Liberian government, while A and G Agro-Mechanical Industries chief executive officer and president Thomas Abanga signed for his company.
Shortly after affixing his signature to the MOU, Cllr. Cephus commended the delegation on behalf of President George Weah for such partnership, which he said is expected to bring more relief to Liberian farmers.
Cephus said under the MOU, the government agreed to provide a total of 10,000 acres of land, but first, “we will start with 1,000 as a pilot project in the first year.”
The pilot project, he said, will also become the bite to attract other investments to the country.
“One of the key reasons is that other institutions came here and said they wanted to do the same thing, but for us as a government, this time around as a pan African initiative, we want to start up with the project, which will last for 25 years; but for now, we are going to start with a pilot project. After that, then we will go directly into the actual year of the project,” Cllr. Cephus said.
He said the A and G Agro-mechanical industries has already assembled its equipment to jump-start the project.
According to Cllr. Cephus, under the agreement, Mr. Abanga will provide tractors and other farming implements as well, to enable him jump-start the pilot project and provide capacity building for farmers to use most of the equipment.
Also, the company will increase rice production, to ensure domestic consumption and export to other African countries.
“Our goal is to create lots of job opportunities for many people in rural Liberia, because the outburst scheme will put money in the hands of the rural poor,” Cephus.
The MOU, he said, will also allow the A and G company to produce the rice, train farmers, and after that, the government will be the off-takers.
Mr. Abanga said the MOU is further intended to reduce rice importation into Liberia as well as ensure that agriculture contribute more to the country’s economy.
According to him, the country had a viable landmass that could be tilled to increase its agricultural outputs and fortunes.
Abanga said commercial rice production, if realized in Liberia, will change the dynamics of agriculture, proving that the country is capable of achieving food security if it invests in the agricultural sector.