Liberia’s Agriculture Minister-designate, Jeanine Cooper says she is in close discussions with eight commercial banks here to provide loans to farmers and for agriculture activities.Appearing for confirmation hearing in the chambers of the Liberian Senate, Wednesday, February 05, at the Capitol in Monrovia, Madam Cooper said it seems challenging and it would take longer for the Liberian government to reopen the former Agriculture Cooperative and
Development Bank, but working existing banks will fast track smooth running of agriculture activities across the country.
Delivering his third Annual Message to the nation a week ago, President George Manneh Weah stressed that agriculture remains a major pillar of his government’s development agenda and that he needed to find an individual who possesses not only the knowledge of agriculture but practical skills to match his vision for agricultural transformation.
It is in this regard that the President recently appointed Madam Jeanine Cooper, founder and chief executive officer of Fabrar Liberia, as his new agriculture minister-designate.Madam Cooper notes the major problem with agriculture in Liberia is not government’s inability to increase budget for the sector, but failure to strictly monitor supports from external sources.
“The past Government did mobilize enough resources to support agriculture but the problem is that projects have never been well supervised. We must ensure that assistance from international partners address basic constraints to its fullest to have transformation. Many projects come into the country without the Government insisting what is needed to be addressed by our partners. If confirmed, I will ensure that we inform our partners on those areas we are lacking for necessary assistance,” she vows.
Commenting on her involvement with Fabrar-Liberia Company, Madam Cooper says upon confirmation by the Liberian Senate, she will resign her post as founder and chief executive officer.Commenting on the improvement of agricultural extension and research, the nominee stressed that farmers should be introduced to improved technologies to access data that can address their constraints.
“The World now depends on mobile technologies to enhance agricultural extension for farmers although this does not rule out human labor. We shall teach our farmers to improve their knowledge through technologies and other means.”
She notes though the rice sector experiences low productivity, subsidy for rice farmers and processors are something she can work toward in her capacity as minister.
“We cannot boost the local production of rice if the farmers are not subsidized. The Government must encourage commercial banks to invest in the farming sector to improve production, mainly for rice,” says the woman has spent a part of her in the private sector besides working with the United Nations. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne