The Chief Registrar of the government-owned Cooperative Development Agency is calling for establishment of an agriculture bank in the country to empower farmers financially.
Madam Regina SokanTeah in an interview with this paper Tuesday, February 16, at her office in Monrovia recalled that prior to the civil war, government had an Agriculture Cooperative Development Bank, which provided loans to farmers throughout the country with the sole purpose of developing and empowering them to grow their products and paid back the loan in a timeframe.
“Before the war we had agriculture bank which was giving loans to farmers and we saw the outcome. Liberians were feeding themselves from their own land, but today nothing because one man’s pocket cannot help the process. I think we need to open a bank solely responsible for agriculture purposes, but it cannot be called agriculture bank because those who did their savings will be claiming their money and they will be right. Unfortunately, government does not have such money to pay back currently,” she told the interview.
According to her, currently, commercial banks operating here do not have luxury of time for farmers instead, when loans are given to farmers this month, the following months banks will start demanding for payback which creates serious constraints for the farmers. The former lawmaker lamented that farmers now face serious challenge of getting loan to improve farms and enlarge at community consumption level.
“Liberians are improving their farming. In fact, there are more Liberians into farming now than before because people getting to know that agriculture has huge financial benefits and the impact on the country is also huge, but the challenge is how these people can get loan to enlarge their farms,”? She asked.
Discussing about the CDA, Madam SokanTeah said, she inherited an appalling agency with total employment at about 45 persons despite the huge challenges engulfing the sector but, today the CDA has staffers in all 15 counties of Liberia.
CDA supports grassroots associations, farmers and non-farm organizations, including women and youth groups into viable cooperative societies throughout the country. The agency is to provide technical expertise including training, audit or cause to audit the financial records of cooperative societies at least once a year to ensure human resources development, financial accountability, and economic growth.
Madam Teah said one of the functions of the agency is to settle disputes among cooperative societies and their members to ensure peaceful co-existence. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor