LACRA Monopolizing Cocoa Sector?

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Cocoa exporters: “We call on the Agriculture and Forestry Committee of the Legislature to rescue their voters by joining us to condemn LACRA's plan to monopolize the cocoa sector to foreign nationals.”

The National Liberia Cocoa Exporters Association (NALICEA), has expressed alarm over recent statement made by Musa Konneh, Deputy Director General for Technical Services at the Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulator (LACRA), about plans to monopolize the cocoa industry. According to them, the plan will also destroy the hope of Liberians who have invested in the sector.

President of NALICEA, Sheikh A. Turay, who spoke to journalists in Monrovia on Monday, April 29, said the LACRA’s plan is not in the best interest of the country, and it also contravenes President George Weah’s policy to promote Liberianization, which aims to have citizens fully participate in the Liberian economy.

Recently, Turay spoke to a local media institution of a plan by LACRA to single-source the export of the cocoa to an individual.

He told reporters that the authority, which took over the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) is yet to understand why such viable entity was transformed, neither do the officials of LACRA understand the fundamental roles and functions at the entity.

He said LACRA’s pronouncement is also counterproductive to efforts being exerted by donors, partners and other stakeholders in the cocoa industry to revive the country’s economy from the agriculture sector.

Turay said the pronouncement intends to put more than 30,000 smallholders’ cocoa farmers out of business by subjecting them to poverty and destroy the huge investments being made in the sector over the past decades.

He said over the years, international partners and the government have made significant gains to smallholders’ farmers, and cooperatives in the sector.

According to Turay, the Liberia Cocoa market was liberalized to empower ordinary citizens, “but it was in 2008, when only Lebanese were given the opportunity to export cocoa beans from Liberia with the registration fees of US$10,000 per annum, which denied Liberian exporters from participating in the sector.”

Though NALICEA condemned LACRA’s action, it also called for the timely intervention of President Weah by denouncing and ensuring that the sinister plan of LACRA to monopolize the sector be aborted.

“We called on the Agriculture and Forestry Committee of the Legislature to rescue their voters by joining us to condemn the plan of LACRA,” Turay declared.

The exporters expressed their dissatisfaction and condemned the act of LACRA authorities considering it unpatriotic, diabolical and undermining the development agenda of President Weah.

“The plan will destroy the cocoa sector, and also the livelihoods of more than 30,000 smallholders’ cocoa farmers and reverting them to poverty,” Turay said.

Providing clarity on recent assertion by the Cocoa Producers Association that the entity wants to monopolize the sector to give preference to Foreign businesses, the Director General of LACRA, Musa Konneh, described the assertion as false and misleading.

The Director General and his two Deputies, who appeared at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing, said the action by LACRA is intended to strengthen the Cocoa sector.

“Our role is to regulate the sector and if we derive at policy that will strengthen the cocoa sector is not a bid deal. We are not outsourcing it and we want to encourage competition among Liberians and in the region,” Konneh said.

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