–Promises to address downward trend
President George Weah says despite endless resources being poured into agriculture by the government and international partners, the returns of these interventions toward the country are almost negligible.
The President’s comment was contained in his second annual message delivered to a joint session of the 54th Legislature on Monday, January 28, 2019 at the Capitol in Monrovia. He promised to address the downward trend of the agricultural sector in order to reduce poverty in the lives of farmers and boost the country’s economy.
“Just as I am doing with the roads, I will directly get involved in the programs and practical implementation of agriculture development,” he added.
According to the President, because the sector accounts for more than 70 percent of household earnings, it is important to note that the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) can only be sustainably achieved through agriculture.
He said his government will craft new practical and realistic agriculture policies to promote the sector.
“We will incentivize the sector by providing access to credit, reducing tariffs on agricultural implements, and provide small machines, modern seeds and fertilizers,” the President said.
Weah also assures his government’s commitment toward the improvement of Liberian businesses.
“As I said before, and continue to say, the country is open for business. Under this administration, the private sector will be prioritized. With the passage of the new Special Economic Zone Law, we will create one-stop shop business zones for the private sector as part of our strategies to begin value addition, especially for light manufacturing and processing,” he said.
“While we try to roll out these new business opportunities, we will get directly involved in improving the business climate,” he said.
President Weah then used the occasion to thank foreign businesses with branches in the country, adding, “I would like to take this time to thank all the foreign businesses operating in the country. In spite of various constraints, they continue to positively contribute to the economy in terms of revenue generations and job creations.”
Meanwhile, a Liberian farmer who preferred anonymity recalled that the agriculture sector has remained underfunded by successive governments over the years, thereby causing low agricultural productivity.
“The government continues to provide limited funding to the sector. We are even disappointed of the President’s speech, because there is no detailed explanation on how he intends to improve agriculture. How can agriculture be improved when the government is still allotting limited money in the national budget?” he said.
He said that much of the funding for agriculture has come from external sources.
“It is unfortunate to hear from the President that funding from the international partners is negligible. Today, many of us in the sector are successful due to donors’ assistance,” the source said.
He said the challenges in the sector are still numerous, and will require a serious commitment from the government for farmers to reduce poverty and make the country food secure.