Japanese Business Delegation Concludes ‘Successful’ Visit to Liberia

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The Japanese business delegation poses with UL agriculture students after discussing a possible agriculture investment opportunity in Liberia.

A high-power Japanese business delegation, which arrived in the country as a guest of the Liberia Business Association (LIBA), has concluded its successful visit to Liberia.

The two-member delegation that comprised an entrepreneur and a high-tech and a business and investment analyst, as well as a top level diplomat, was in country from January 21-25, 2020.

Their primarily interest was to explore investment opportunities in the agriculture sector, especially on a short-term basis.

Members of the delegation were: Mr. Eiji Yamamura of Nobata Farm Incorporated, a private agribusiness entrepreneur and Ms. Hibar Debbar, Analyst of Quine Corporation, a multi service business establishment in Japan.

While in Liberia, the delegation held series of agribusiness meetings with major stakeholders—some of which included the Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce and Industry, Internal Affairs, the National Investment Commission, Liberia Bankers Association, Liberia Farmers Union, the Central Agriculture Research Institute, students of the University of Liberia, Fabrar Rice Processing Plant, Fuamah Farms District Cooperative Society — a rural agricultural cooperative —  as well as the Obasanjo farms Incorporated, a poultry production facility.

Other areas visited by the delegation included the Fallama Cassava processing plant in Bomi County, and the Liberia Farmers Union Network (L-FUN), where briefing on opportunities for trading of Liberian foods on the local and international market were held.

The Japanese delegation, which was accompanied to Liberia by Zukolee G. Kongo, Liberian Counselor accredited to Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, January 24, visited the office of the Bong County Superintendent, Madam Esther Walker, and her entire leadership, where they expressed excitement over the initiative that LIBA and Japan are about to embark on.

LIBA announced recently that it will embark on the Liberia Food Production Program through which members of the Association will be encouraged and facilitated to engage in more aggressive efforts for food production on a commercial scale in Liberia.

LIBA president and the Rapid Food Initiative (RFPI), represented by Mr. Michael George, said the program attracted tremendous investment interests, including the visiting Japanese business delegation.

According to them, under the food production program, the leadership has had extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders in the national economy, and it would pursue measures to encourage and stimulate greater interest in the food production business in the country.

They pointed out that the Liberia Food Production Program (LFPP) is a private sector-driven business undertaking, so the Association will work in collaboration with other Liberian institutions in the food production sector.

The Liberian business group disclosed that it has designed a program for investment of some US$157.9 million in the economy of Liberia over the next few years to support food production on a commercial scale.

The program, LIBA said, requires the provision of some 18 types of intervention support services, as profit-making business ventures, on the production and post-harvest value-added chain of the food industry and has the potential to create over 140,000 permanent and seasonal job opportunities.

While holding discussion with the students of University of Liberia (UL) Agriculture Department, the students called on the Japanese Government for help.

“We need your help, we’re thirsty and as students of the Agriculture Department we don’t have the kind of support that we should be getting from government.”

The students also told the Japanese delegation that they cannot do agriculture because the issue of finance is what hampering the sector. “So, with this new initiative that they are about to begin in Liberia, we need your help that will improve this sector,” the students said.

Mr. James S. Dolo, Acting Crops Manager of CARI, expressed thanks to LIBA and the delegation for visiting CARI. He also promised to work with them to see the full implementation of the project.

CARI, he said, “as we all know is the only agriculture research institute in Liberia and as such we are ready o support this endeavor that will boost rice production and others.

At the same time, Bong County Superintendent Madam Esther Walker thanked the delegation and stated that the composition of their delegation reflects a real strong response to President George Weah’s visit to the Japan.

She assured the delegation that they will coordinate with citizens in the county on how they can resolve some of the land issues there.

Mr. Yamamura, who is the head of the delegation told Liberians that the project they are about to undertake in partnership with LIBA is a public sector driving project.

According to him, private sector means, “we must forget about Liberia and focus on our kids, grand children, husband and wife, close friends, and think about what Food we need to keep them healthy. What we need is, a nutritional plan, farming plans with scientific back up, and regulations, because, we don’t want to get them sick by using too much pesticide, and training opportunities, all in one frame work.”

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