The National Agro-Inputs Dealers Association of Liberia (NAIDAL), an umbrella organization of agro-dealers, has commended President George Weah for lifting tariff on agriculture products, including seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and farming equipment.
NAIDA President Rebecca Kalayi made the commendation at a press conference on Wednesday, September 4, in her Sinkor Old Road office, a suburb of Monrovia.
“We believe that the duty waiver (Executive Order #97) will boost farmers’ yield and contribute to the socioeconomic development of rural communities, which depend solely on agriculture,” she said.
Smallholder farmers continue to face many difficulties in assessing good quality seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, and other agricultural inputs at affordable prices. This is partly due to high import tariffs that make the country uncompetitive and unappealing for inputs distribution as compared to neighboring countries.
It is therefore expected that the duty waiver, which is designed to bring down the cost of imported agricultural materials, will make inputs more affordable for smallholder farmers to improve their yields and incomes.
In line with the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), President Weah, in August 2019, issued Executive Order #97, spending tariffs on agriculture products for a period of one year. The reason is to reduce the cost of importing agricultural inputs by up to 24 percent through the removal of duties of goods and services tax.
Madam Kalayi however called for an effective implementation of the Executive Order, if smallholder farmers are to greatly benefit. She said her organization stands to work with the government through the ministries of Agriculture, Commerce and Justice for the success of the policy.
“We will work with relevant government ministries and stakeholders to create awareness so that smallholder farmers can have better understanding on the import tariff,” she said. “We want to appeal to the government to spearhead the effective implementation of the Executive Order by working closely with NAIDAL.”
Madam Kalayi said that her organization is working with partners to ensure that the duty waiver becomes translated into a longer term agricultural policy.
“We will appreciate if the government is to transform the duty waiver into a longer term agricultural policy to make the sector more viable,” she said.
Madam Kalayi said further that with support from other partners, her organization is now equipped with the knowledge of agro-inputs’ utilization to better work with farmers. She however stressed the need for the government to strengthen the capacity of NAIDAL, with logistics to reach more smallholder farmers in the various communities.
Meanwhile, several agro-dealers have told the Daily Observer that although they stand to benefit from the Executive Order #97, the high exchange rate of the United States dollars is a serious impediment to the growth of their respective businesses.
Therefore, they want the government to stabilize the foreign exchange rate on the local market.