In an effort to improve Liberia’s food security, stakeholders from the line ministries and agencies, as well as regional partners, local and international non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, youths and farmers groups, coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), have concluded on a 2-day National Inclusive Dialogues meeting aimed at developing a food security storage strategy and procedure manual documents that will further ensure food security for Liberia, particularly in crisis period through food reserve.
The meeting was held in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County, from February 18-19, 2021 with support from the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF), the body that is responsible for food security matters under ECOWAS.
Stakeholders have said that the food security storage strategy and procedure manual for Liberia, when adopted, shall also promote regional solidarity as well as reduce the country’s dependence on international food aid.
Liberia faces a serious economic shock as inflation has plagued the country over the last two years, averaging 2% each month since November 2018. World Bank report (from November 2020) has labeled the country as one of the worst countries as per food security problems.
Currently, food security data on Liberia are obsolete, because no recent assessment or survey has been conducted that took into account the different food security indicators. However, the Daily Observer has learned that partners, including the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), are now working to support the government to conduct food security and snapshot of the post-harvest assessment.
According to Sam R. Yoryor, III, Director Food Security and Nutrition Division at the MOA, and Liberia Focal Point on ECOWAS Food Storage Management Committee, the food security storage strategy and procedure manual documents, when developed, will link Liberia’s national storage plan or intervention to the ECOWAS Food Security Reserve.
He stated that stakeholders at the recent dialogue discussed the importance of food storage, what are the possible types of food to store, stocking, destocking, management structures as well as proposed a 5-year budget for the entire storage strategy exercise.
Yoryor added that the workshop further afforded the participants to define the approach for consultation between the various key players involved in storage mechanisms in general and food security mechanisms in particular that can contribute to the achievement of the mission among other things.
“When the storage strategy program is developed, it will link Liberia’s national storage plan or intervention plan to the ECOWAS Food Security Reserve,” he said.
According to him, the workshop was part of the requirement for every country in the sub-region before setting up a storage strategy.
“It was meant to afford all stakeholders the opportunity to provide their inputs to the food security storage strategy,” he said.
“We expect that the result from the meeting will inform the consultant of the existing structures available when it comes to food security storage in the country, which the consultant will use to enrich the current strategy as per the regional guidelines,” he explained.
Yoryor informed our reporter that under the regional food security reserve, there are three objectives that ECOWAS prioritizes, which include responding to food crisis by strengthening capacities of the food system; promoting regional solidarity in order to reduce food dependency on international food aid; and promoting storage system targeted for emergency response.
The MOA Food security Director and ECOWAS focal person stated that in March of this year they are expected to complete the development of the storage strategy and procedure manual exercise.
“The next step will be to start the implementation process in line with recommendations in the document. It is also expected to take into consideration capacity building for the technical committee,” he explained.
Meanwhile in his opening statement during the recent workshop in Buchanan City, Professor Nathaniel B. Walker, Officer-in-Charge and Head of Mission, ECOWAS Office of the Special Representative of the President of ECOWAS in Liberia, expressed the regional body’s commitment to helping Liberia develop its food storage strategy.
“This is an important aspect of food security because it relates well to storage, preservation and reservation, issues that are important for the sub-region today,” he said.
According to him, harmonization of policies relating to storage is necessary and crucial to promote food security among ECOWAS member countries.
“Therefore, as you gather here today for this important step relative to the drafting or updating of Liberia’s national policies or strategies for food security storage and national stock governance, let it be known that you are contributing not only to addressing the food security needs in Liberia but the entire sub-region,” he told the participants.