How is it possible that a World Bank fully-funded project to improve fish production facilities in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County to ease the burden of our fishermen and women would be allowed to stall for absolutely no reason?
Well, that is what happened to this project for the past several years. It was started under the watch of Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth. Robertsport is her own city, where she was born. And although World Bank money was fully available to complete the project, it was allowed to stall when it should have been completed while she was yet Minister.
This makes one wonder whether some of our people really want development. What is the purpose of going to school and acquiring all that education, even to the PhD level, and when you are given the opportunity to serve and to lift your country and people from poverty, you sit.
That is why today we are producing very little in agriculture and that is why, too, there is among all the other crises facing Liberia—even political—the United States dollar has swallowed up the Liberian dollar. Our poor market people must now cough up nearly a hundred Liberian dollars to match one US
Dollar to buy goods to sell in the market. Consumers, too, have to spend so much more to put food on the table—why?
Because Ellen’s first two Agriculture Ministers, Doctors Chris Toe and Florence Chenoweth, failed to develop and execute a plan to lift agriculture in Liberia.
At the time Toe and Chenoweth came into office in 2006 and 2008, respectively, as Agriculture Ministers, the price of rubber was over US$2000 per metric ton and Liberia was swimming in foreign exchange. But both Toe and Chenoweth are experienced people, not children, and knew that the prices of primary commodities on the world market do fluctuate. It had happened before in Liberia, plunging the economy into austerity mode and causing great hardship among the people.
But what did these two most learned Liberians do? Did they say okay, let us push rice production, meat, poultry and egg production? Did they say rubber is good today, but we don’t know tomorrow, so let’s plant coffee and cocoa, which will ALWAYS be in demand on the world market? No. They were too busy doing what? Heaven knows.
So here we are today, experiencing greater economic difficulty than even during the war. And these Ministers are now gone, having left their poor Liberian people holding an empty bag, still importing everything, including bitter ball and other vegetables and, of course, our staple, rice and most other foods.
What is the purpose of Education, if the educated cannot use it to lift their people from poverty?
This fisheries project in Robertsport should have been completed two to three years ago, but Minister Chenoweth sat, or traveled, leaving the project, for absolutely no reason, to languish. Today it is three years behind, when three or four projects, for which money was and is available, could have been completed; yet they have not yet started.
Here is a lesson for ALL our students. Study hard, yes, remain focused, yes; but don’t study and stay focused for their own sake, but develop the determination to build a positive, healthy and wholesome future for your country and yourselves.
We pray that the fisheries project in Robertsport will be completed before the end of 2016.
Minister Moses Zinnah, we are depending on you to make sure that within the next 15 to 20 months the fisheries projects in Buchanan, Cestos City, Greenville, Barclayville and Harper will be fully functional.
This will enable you to prove to us that you earned your PhD for a purpose—to lift Liberian agriculture and put us firmly on the road to food self-sufficiency.