By Joe Fineboy (Contributor)
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, signed a US$250,000 agreement to boost Liberia’s agriculture sector. The amount was provided by the Government of Japan.
FAO’s Country representative Madam Mariatou Njie said the agreement focuses on integrated sustainable rice system development, and support to implementation of the 2009 FAO’s Agreement on Port State Measure and voluntary guidelines to boost the agriculture in the region.
Madam Njie said rice, which is the country staple food, which is commonly eaten with fish, it is good that much attention be given to them to enhance food security, adding, “the country imports more than 90% of rice at a cost of about US$80 million per year.
She said that a 2018 report of Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), indicates that 37.8% of food and live animals were imported, thus leading to the increase in demand of rice with a growing population of 2.5% per annum.
Against this backdrop, Madam Njie said the first project, “integrated sustainable rice system development,” is intended to assist the government in enhancing food production capacity of smallholders’ farmers to sustainable increase production of food, and alleviate incomes and food availability.
According to her, the project will be implemented through the MoA with Africa Rice in close collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with technical support from FAO.
Madam Njie said that Phase II of the project will focus on securing sustainable small-scale fisheries, and maritime security in the gulf of Guinea, and will also address major livelihood of Liberians.
She said that this also to improve sustainability of marine fisheries by preventing, deterring and eliminating, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and enhance maritime security in the region.
Phase II of the project, according to Madam Njie, will be implemented in Liberia and Sierra Leone for a period of one year in the tune of US$500,000 budget.
She used the occasion to thank the Government of Japan through its Ambassador, Tsutomun Himeno for entrusting her organization, FAO, with the resources for execution.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mogana Flomo, expressed overwhelming joy for the funding, and called on Liberians to go back to the soil, and take agriculture seriously, as international partners are willing to assist.
He said Liberia is a country with the right soil that Liberians need to cultivate and produce food that will sustain them.
Dr. Flomo assured the partners that under his administration, he will ensure that agriculture activities benefit the growing population of the country.