As Liberia struggles toward food security, the Mano River Union reveals a work plan with the World Bank, Africa Rice Production and other sub-regional bodies to increase rice production in the subregion.
Head of Secretariat Ambassador Medina Wesseh says as part of such efforts the MRU is collaborating to re-introduce the school feeding program. The Mano River Union Secretariat is based in Freetown, Sierra Leone with offices in Conakry, Guinea and Monrovia, Liberia, respectively.
Speaking recently on a local radio station in Monrovia, Ambassador Wesseh notes that though the program is functional in some countries, there is a need for systematic work with the Ministries of Education, Health and Agriculture, to ensure it is re-introduced in Liberia.
According to her, the re-introduction of the program should entail a focus point for farmers, where they will grow rice and sell to relevant agencies.She says when the program is rolled up, it will reap two major things: children will grow up eating and loving their own country rice, and it will cut down importation of rice.
“I had a discussion with the Country Representative of the World Food Program (WFP) in Sierra Leone, and was joined by the Regional Representative which is intended to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to do a brief study tour and see what and how Cote d’Ivoire is doing in rice production. Guinea has similar program with WFP, Sierra Leone and Liberia are low on the ladder” she notes.
Ambassador Wesseh explains that after the study tour in Cote d'Ivoire, the Union will subsequently work with governments, invite ministers to discuss and agree on a plan of action for implementation.
She discloses that the African Development Bank (ADB) has a program for youth empowerment in animal husbandry.On the issue of road network, she adds that a consortium is looking currently at the MRU road network, and that since 2011 a cost estimate of US$1.2 billion is being secured to have the sub-region interconnected.
Currently, she said the European Union has funded a 12-mile road from Sierra Leone to Guinea.Ambassador Wesseh says there are over US$700 Million worth of road project for Liberia, adding that some are already implemented and some are stalled, detailing that Freetown to Bo-Waterside is a US$600 Million project funded by the EU. “It used to be five hours of bad road, but is now two hours”, she observes.
The Mano River Union (MRU) was established on October 3, 1973, following the signing of the Mano River declaration (Treaty) in Sierra Leone by the Heads of States of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea subsequently joined on 25 October 1980 followed by Cote d'Ivoire on 15 May, 2008, bringing the membership to four.
-Editing by Jonathan Browne