The Resident Representative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group in Liberia has observed that the country is losing a lot because she is not prioritizing agriculture and spends too much on imported agricultural products.
In order to make agriculture workable and transformative, Dr. Margaret Hilda Kilo pointed out that attention must be given to road networks, cross border security and women’s involvement in agriculture.
The AfDB Executive made the statement recently when she held talks with the President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Armah Zolu Jallah, at his Capitol Building offices.
Dr. Kilo, who has been in Liberia since 2011 and will retire in 2018, informed Pro Temp Jallah about her passion for agriculture, and disclosed that she already has 200 hectares of farmland in Cameroon.
For his part, Pro Tempore Jallah underscored the significance of a sustainable agricultural program in Liberia and wants government to invest in oil palm production by simply strengthening smallholder farmers.
Jallah told Dr. Kilo that he was constructing a nursery of palm seedlings and intends erecting a processing facility in Gbarpolu County to add value to agricultural products such as cassava, and wants government to work on a five-year agricultural program in the oil palm industry and empower at least 150 family heads in the industry.
Since the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has growth impact and that agriculture is the bedrock of a country, Pro Temp Jallah said he thinks the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture should be increased to an appreciable amount to enable the MOA effectively support agriculture.
Jallah, who hails from one of the country’s mineral rich counties, is suggesting that the government owns and operates government farms as encouragement to individual farmers and be able to give out seedlings, seed rice and other agriculture-related products and remove all stringent local laws that are intended to deny many farmers the right to farmland. The MOA’s 2016/2017 budget is US$9,428,260.00.
Meanwhile, Jallah has promised to collaborate with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, J. Alex Tyler, to make appropriation in the National Budget as support to smallholder farmers and all agriculture-related projects.