A wonderful, long overdue process began in Careysburg last weekend. It was the dedication of the US$4 million Careysburg Slaughter House that envisions “a revamped meat industry by the highest safety quality standards and an enhanced value chain both upstream and downstream.”
Agriculture Minister Dr. Moses Zinnah, who spoke at the slaughterhouse’s official dedication last Friday, pledged that the Liberian government would continue “to support a sector that will provide safe, hygiene quality meat products to the Liberian people.”
The Minister expressed appreciation to Conex/MD Sow and Associates Enterprise, Incorporated, the private Liberian company that owns the slaughterhouse.
Minister Zinnah also thanked Conex/MD Sow’s partners for their assistance in the establishment of the enterprise. The partners included the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service; Land O’Lakes International Development, a non-profit organization that is affiliated with one of the largest farmer-owned agricultural cooperatives in the USA; and the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service.
The Agriculture Minister sounded a hopeful note when he declared that it was his Ministry’s “responsibility to create an enabling environment to ensure that such an investment thrives, in order to develop the country’s economy.”
And while we wait for the Agriculture Minister’s specifics about this important promise, we at the Daily Observer would like to suggest at least three areas that would ensure that the Ministry keeps this promise.
First, the MOA should seriously engage the few Liberians who are pursing studies in Veterinary Medicine and agricultural sciences, so that they may return home as soon as possible to help in the development and expansion of Liberia’s livestock, poultry and egg industries. And let them not end up like the many from the National Oil Company of
Liberia (NOCAL), who were sent abroad for training in Chemical Engineering, Petroleum Economics and Accounting, Computer Technology and related fields. And when they returned fully qualified, there were no jobs as their positions had been filled by political appointees! This should NOT happen at Agriculture.
Mr. Sam Thompson, one of the Careysburg Slaughter House partners, has already indicated that they have trained 35 veterinary assistants “to provide a pool of human resource talent” to man the slaughterhouse operations.
But we think the Agriculture Ministry is the prime organization to take the initiative to ensure the agriculture sector, especially the livestock industry, has enough trained personnel to develop and expand the industry. Working in close collaboration with the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) in Suacoco, Bong County, as well as embassies near Monrovia and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Agriculture Ministry knows that it can rely on all of them to help provide fellowships to train our agricultural and veterinary personnel.
The second initiative that we recommend the MOA to undertake is to help Conex/MD Sow to identify prime cattle breeding areas around Liberia where breeding and multiplication can take place, in order quickly to develop and expand Liberia’s livestock industry.
Why have we allowed Guinea and Sierra Leone to surpass us in this? Sam Thompson, in his remarks last Friday, quoted the FAO in revealing that Liberia has “less than 1.0% of West Africa’s livestock population, with only 36,000 cattle, and 430,000 sheep and goats, compared to Guinea’s 1.7 million cattle and 2.2 million sheep and goats.”
With Liberia’s vast land lying mostly in bush throughout the country, surely we have more than enough acreage to develop our livestock industry.
This newspaper has for a long time striven to engage people from Maryland and Grand Kru counties, whose land is ideal for cattle raising, to invest in the livestock industry. These include John Hilary Tubman, former Senator Cletus Wotorson and former Senator Blamo Nelson. John Hilary hails from Harper, but the farm of his father, the late
President W.V.S. Tubman, is in Boniken; while Cletus and Blamo hail from Grand Cess and Picnicess, respectively, where at one time there were more cattle than people on the ground. Blamo says he has significant heads of cattle (large number of cows and bulls). That is a good beginning that needs to be expanded.
The MOA should take the initiative to engage more people to make use of this pristine (virgin) opportunity, not only in the southeast but also in Bong, Lofa, Gbarpolu, Nimba and other counties. But in order to do this, MOA has got to be focused and results-oriented, just as the US Department of Agriculture.
The third initiative we believe Minister Zinnah should undertake is to work closely with the Careysburg Slaughter House so that it is so efficiently and profitably run that it will be unnecessary for any supermarket or meat shop to import processed meat. And working with the Commerce and Industry Ministry, the business of the Careysburg Slaughter House could so blossom that soon more slaughterhouses could be established around the country to keep pace with our expanding livestock industry.
We commend the owners and partners of the Careysburg Slaughter House and wish them Godspeed and great success in the years ahead.