The Minister of Agriculture, Jeanine M. Cooper, has, with immediate effect, cancelled a bidding process for heavy-duty tractors and other agricultural equipment in order to rationalize spending of donor funds.
The Minister had requested a new bid that includes an expanded list of equipment better suited to Liberia’s climate and topography; more aligned to farmers’ needs and for smaller farm sizes and are rationalized with agricultural assets already on ground.
“We need to have a more rational use of available resources, especially as we enter a State of Emergency for the COVID-19. We can’t afford to spend money buying equipment that will not be used”, Minister Cooper asserted in a press release.
The heavy-duty tractors and other agricultural equipment were to be purchased through a multi donor-funded project under the Ministry of Agriculture dubbed, Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement & Commercialization or SAPEC.
The SAPEC Project comes to an end this June after it started in 2013.
Its objectives are to enhance incomes of small holder farmers, particularly women and rural youth and intensify land under cassava, rice and vegetable production and improve land husbandry.
“Our farmers need equipment and tools suited for Liberia; for our farms and crops. Light tractors and skid steers that can facilitate de-stumping and land preparation on farm sizes that are as small as one (1) hectare.”
The Minister noted that instead of three 16-ton trucks, that will have limited functionality, government should be looking at 3- to 6-ton trucks that are more agile and appropriate for off-road conditions, as farmers need help with post-harvest machinery, and to be able to use modern drying techniques that will reduce losses after harvest.
The cancelled bid contained 17 pieces of equipment, parts and accessories. But for the re-tendering, Minister Cooper said, the bid has been expanded to 40 types of equipment that will more directly benefit rice producers, cassava processors and vegetable farmers. Press Release