The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the Executive Committee on COVID-19 (ECOC) have launched Liberia’s first Agriculture Transport Permit System, a tool that enables agriculture authorities to grant temporary permission to agriculture actors to move between approved counties amidst the lockdown.
It also allows law enforcement and other state security actors to easily verify if agriculture actors are approved to move between counties. The permit system is a component of the Liberia Agriculture Information Monitoring System (Liberia AIMS) a platform designed to collect real-time agriculture information nationwide.
The MOA requests agriculture actors including farmers, traders, and processors who wish to transport agriculture goods between counties to apply for a transport permit by dialing *747*104# on the Lonestar Cell MTN network only at this time. It will also become functional on the Orange network shortly.
The permit system is provided free of charge to the public; no phone credit will be be deducted from anyone who uses the service.
This new platform was conceptualized by Agriculture Minister, Jeanine Milly Cooper and endorsed by Mary T. Broh, National Response Coordinator for ECOC, as part of Government of Liberia’s emergency food security program to avoid food shortage in the COVID-19 lockdown.
“In this crucial stage of our emergency, food availability to the public is key for the Ministry of Agriculture. We have been receiving many requests from farmers across the country at the start of the lockdown and have decided to think outside of the box to bring in innovations that will allow our farmers and food processors to freely travel across counties to sell their products”, Minister Cooper indicated.
In his address to the nation on April 8th, President George M. Weah announced a strict prohibition of movement from one county to the other in Liberia in order to contain the spread of the virus, which later triggered challenges in the transportation of food commodities from producers to markets.
In this connection, MOA and ECOC quickly deploy a nationwide permit system to enable the movement and tracking of produce without dependence on expensive devices that require access to the internet.
The permit system allows anyone with a simple mobile phone within the reach of a mobile network to interact with no data or airtime required.
The software platform was built by Cookshop Food Services, Inc. (Cookshop.biz), a Liberian agro-tech company that has developed advanced software solutions for the local market since 2014.