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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Agriculture Ministry Donates U$37K Equipment To State, Non-state Actors

The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), through its World Bank Project Implementation Unit (PIU), has presented several assorted items to different actors in the agriculture sector.

The items donated include vehicles, earth moving equipment, office furniture and equipment, generators and lubricants among other essential items.

Institutions that benefited are the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), National Standard Lab (NSL), National Rice Federation of Liberia (NRFL), The Association of Liberian Oil Palm Farmers Inc. TALOPFI, Cassava Value Chain, and the Liberia Vegetable Sellers Association (LVSA).

Others are the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) and the Department of Regional Development, Research and Extension (DRDRE) MOA, and the National Oil Palm Platform of Liberia (NOPPOL).

The total value of the items presented over the period is U$372,152.25, with CDA and NSL expected to be presented a 4×4 vehicle late January 2023. CARI received a tractor and 3 motorbikes in October 2022.

Additionally, the presentation is intended to boost coordination between the MOA through the World Bank PIU, and the state and non-state actors in the agriculture sectors, as well as strengthen their capacities to deliver quality services to their members who are mainly farmers, processors and aggregators.

The PIU currently implements the World Bank funded Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP) that deals in the cassava, piggery & poultry, rubber and vegetable value chains, and the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization (STAR) Project, funded by the World Bank and the International Funds for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and focuses on the oil palm, rice and vegetable value chains.

Presenting the items to the MoA Asset Director Munah Nmah for subsequent submission to the various recipients, RETRAP Operations Manager Tarnue N. Jeke said the action is in fulfillment of an agreement reached by the MOA, represented by the PIU, and various agriculture and farming groups and regulators.

“As we have agreed in the MOUs, these items are intended to help your various institutions improve the quality of services that you deliver to the farmers and processors in the various value chains that both our projects are involved with.

The MoA is doing this because all of us, as sectorial actors, have the same goal to improve and increase productivity, and create products for market purposes that will eventually put monies in the pockets and bank accounts of our beneficiaries who are the farmers, processors and agro-dealers,” he said.

He also called on the CDA specifically to fast track the process of supporting farmers’ based organizations to become full flesh cooperatives.

In a brief statement, Director Nmah noted that the MoA was fully committed to supporting recognized farmers and farming groups that have exhibited clear potential to transform the agriculture sector for economic gains.

In response, the Deputy Registrar General for Gender, Youth Participation, and Program Development, Mohammed K. Jalloh said the support from the MoA and development partners to key actors in the sector will boost the capacities of the receiving institutions that are executing their various mandates to transform struggling farmers and farming groups into viable institutions that will be recognized.

“Farming is a business, and until these smallholders that are targeted under the projects receive the right support and at the right time, the aim of transforming their activities into full blooming businesses will not be achieved. But I am glad that the process is well underway with interventions of this kind, demonstrated by the Ministry of Agriculture through its World Bank Projects”, he said.

For his part, the president of the National Rice Federation of Liberia (NRFL) recounted the numerous supports the MOA has already given his institution and others. Mohammed Kamara said the NRFL was grateful for the donation.

“We can count the different rice mills and processing facilities built or supported by the MOA around the country. We can also refer to several matching grants, farming tools and inputs that have already been given to rice producers and processers to boost our production, as well as many other interventions by the MOA.

“These actions are in the right direction, especially with the mandate to increase rice production, processing and packaging as a result of the recent crisis the country faced when we had a shortage of our staple food, rice,” Kamara noted.

Both projects are aimed at improving agricultural productivity, commercialization and market access for smallholder farmers and agri-enterprise for selected value chains across 13 counties in Liberia.

With the expectation of additional financing, the projects are expected to extend full operations to the remaining two counties that include River Gee and Rivercess. Currently, Farmers Based Organizations (FBOs) in both counties can apply for grants under the Liberia Agriculture Commercialization Funds (LACF).

LACF ensures the effective and efficient delivery of matching grants to agribusinesses, including smallholder farmers and processors with viable and profitable business plans who also demonstrate that they have the capacity to match the grant though assets and cash, and are involved with any of the projects’ value chains or acceptable agricultural inputs.

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