The proprietors of the newly established Careysburg Slaughter House envision a revamped meat industry marked by the highest safety quality standards and an enhanced value chain both upstream and downstream.
The high standard set for the establishment of the US$4 million Careysburg Slaughter House shows Liberia’s commitment to work within its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), says Agriculture Minister, Dr. Moses Zinnah.
Speaking at the official dedication of the Slaughter House in Careysburg, Montserrado County last Friday, Minister Zinnah said the Liberian government would continue to support a sector that will provide safe, hygiene quality meat products to the Liberian people.
He expressed appreciation to the United States and partners, including Conex/M.D. Sow & Associates Enterprise Incorporated, a private Liberian company that owns the slaughterhouse; Land O’Lakes International Development, a non-profit organization that is deeply affiliated with one of the largest farmer-owned agricultural cooperatives in the United States; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service.
Dr. Zinnah expressed excitement about the possibility of the slaughterhouse providing jobs for Liberians, along with safe, hygiene quality products to Liberian consumers.
He said it’s the ministry’s responsibility to create an enabling environment to ensure that such investment thrive to develop the country’s economy.
Mr. Samuel Thompson, chairman of the board of Conex/M.D. Sow & Associates, Incorporated, said it was a journey from 2007, when M. D. Sow & Associates applied to the US African Development Foundation, to support its cattle breeding and multiplication.
“Today, by God’s grace and with the help of our various partners, we have a modern slaughter house that can process and store minimum 20 cows plus 50 sheep and goats per day, according to international food safety and hygiene standards,” he said.
He said, however, if more cold storage capacity is available in-house or downstream, “we can slaughter more than 200 cows per day.”
Mr. Thompson said the Careysburg Slaughter House and other activities were coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture with Land O’ Lakes, and will help transform Liberia’s livestock sector.
“It will ensure that we eat cleaner and safer meat products at affordable prices. It will also enable a large number of people throughout the country to get jobs and reduce poverty, through the livestock value chain,” Mr. Thompson said.
According to the FAO, he said Liberia has less than 1.0% of West Africa’s livestock population and Liberia has only 36,000 cattle and 430,000 sheep and goats compared to Guinea, with 1.7 Million cattle and 2.2 Million sheep and goats.
“Today’s event opens the door for Careysburg Slaughter House to provide market access for a large volume of livestock produced by a vibrant domestic industry. We hope to achieve this by operating this plant efficiently, to add value in processing livestock into different products like prime cuts, ground beef, sausages, meatloaf, salted and dried meat over time,” he said.
Mr. Thompson said the industry needs additional support from the Liberian government and other stakeholders because of the need for patient capital and technical support for breeding and multiplication of disease and climate-resistant livestock.
“There is a need to train veterinary and livestock breeding technicians at the University of Liberia plus other tertiary institutions. There is also a need to close down existing slaughter facilities to avoid serious health risks to the population,” he said.
Mr. Thompson said within the WTO framework for poor countries, “our livestock industry will need protection against imported and often inferior meat products. Liberia needs time to rebuild its decimated livestock supply through breeding and multiplication.”
Mr. Jon Halverson, vice president of Land O’Lakes International, said the completion of the Slaughter House is a journey of hope with funding from the American people through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service, without whose support, it would not have been possible. He said in a few weeks, the project would be complete to provide safe, alternative quality products to existing meat supply, while stimulating growth across the livestock value chain.
He said when the project is done in a few weeks’ time; Liberians would have a chance to celebrate. He said under the umbrella of the Food for Progress (Liberia) project, Land O’Lakes designed a complete curriculum on food safety and hygiene for Liberia’s meat industry.
Already the project has trained 35 veterinary assistants to provide a pool of talent of human resources, with two expected to be based at the new slaughter house and report directly to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Other speakers included Rep. Josephine George Francis and Careysburg City Mayor Anna Phillips who expressed appreciation for the dedication and promised their support. Officials toured the facilities to have a firsthand experience.