Liberia: “Agric Transformation Requires Trust, Confidence”
The Minister of Agriculture Jeanine Milly Cooper has claimed that her administration is working toward the actualization of President George M. Weah’s administration’s vision for agricultural transformation to improve the economy.
According to her, the President’s vision to get local commodities exported outside the country is gradually being realized. Weah has made agriculture a top priority of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), the country’s development agenda. But support for the sector is hugely donor driven with very little support from the national budget.
In her deliberation at the just-ended cabinet retreat in Ganta City, Nimba County, Cooper stated that the transformation of agriculture that the President so much desires requires trust and confidence. Though the minister has been accused of corruption by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, she said that the government has inspired trust from donor partners to attract more funding to support agriculture.
She explained that in 2020, US$16 million was received mainly as COVID-related support, US$73 million last year and this year US$10 million as additional financing studies budget support toward food production as well as US$100 million now being discussed for climate smart agriculture from partners to support the sector.
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She added that recently the US Government also announced US$40 million under its ‘Feed the Future’ program to support food and nutrition security. Cooper further informed government officials attending the retreat that hundreds of smallholder farmers and value chain members have received improved seeds, fertilizers and machines to enhance production.
She stated that there are plans by her ministry to provide monies as grants to potential farming cooperatives and farmers to improve productivity.
According to her, the process to assist potential cooperatives is currently ongoing through a qualified financial firm hired by her ministry. She explained that today the country is moving toward industrialization by attracting further investment especially for export companies.
She pointed out that Nimba Rubber company is exporting processed rubber from Liberia and the current processing plant in Margibi by Indian businessman Upjit Singh Sachdeva (alias Jeety) will see the manufacturing of rubber tires in the next few years.
Moreover, the minister disclosed that Firestone Liberia will soon be opening one of West Africa’s largest ribbed smoked sheet plants in the country this year.
The minister also mentioned that her ministry is working with the private sector to ensure that the poultry sector is improved to ensure the domestic supply of eggs for the market.According to her, a poultry plant is now built in Bomi that will supply more eggs for the market by December.
The minister said that Liberian made products from agriculture produce are now increasing on the market throughout the country.
Meanwhile, during the opening of the retreat on July 11, Minister Samuel Tweah highlighted what he described as a significant improvement in the financial sector, being that the government was able to pay back money credited from the Central Bank of Liberia. According to him, the government was contributing significantly to the growth of the Central Bank.