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Cocoa, Oil Palm rehabilitation launched in Liberia

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Global network organization Solidaridad has launched a four – year cocoa and oil palm agriculture programs in Liberia, aimed at equipping thousands of smallholder farmers with trainings and access to finance to explore the two lucrative sectors.

The cocoa rehabilitation and intensification program (CORIP) the sustainable West Africa oil palm program (SWAPP) launched in Monrovia Friday, 14 May are the extension of similar programs in the economies of neighboring Sierra Leone, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire.
The government of Netherlands is funding the Liberian project which is valued at 3.8 million Euro and is due to run for four years.

Officially launching the program at Bella Casa Hotel in Sinkor, Liberia’s Agriculture Minister Dr. Mogana Flomo says Cocoa and Oil Palm are two very significant sectors that are going to contribute to the economic growth of Liberia.

According to Minister Flomo, the two crops are listed among government’s priority crops, expressing optimism that they will improve the lives of farmers, better health services and schooling for farmers’ kids.But he challenges farmers to change the mindset that they can only make farms if they are given alms (assistance).

He also discloses during interaction with the media that agriculture technology centers staffed with trained people are being set up that will be able to provide services to farmers, with understanding that the beneficiaries can pay for the services later.

To address the financial needs for such project, Minister Flomo explains further that commercial banks are being engaged to see reason to give loan to farmers.Earlier, Netherlands Ambassador to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana Mr. Ron Strikker admonished that new financial mechanisms are created to give farmers access to finance.In regards to organizing service delivery to farmers, Ambassador Strikker says it is really obvious that the advantages will be higher productivity, more sustainability, better life and income and more jobs for farmers.

He observes that there is good result in Ghana’s CORIP and SWAPP programs, and the second phase has started here in Liberia with much more access to finance.But Ambassador Strikker warns that “we have to stop deforestation” and to do all these things within the framework of climate change.Solidaridad Regional Director for West Africa Mr. Isaac Gyamfi says Solidaridad’s core project is to develop sustainable institutions in partnership with the private sector and government.

Mr. Gyamfi, a Ghanaian national, argues that “pro – poor” polices that are “free, free, free” have not helped Africa, and so other development partners are now shifting from aid to trade and investment.

In Solidaridad’s approach, Mr. Gyamfi reveals that it will work with institutions that build systems and managerial structures that will enable the institutions to continue operation even beyond donors’ funding.

He explains that the organization intervenes at providing the robust infrastructure that allows smallholder farmers to capitalize on trainings and capacities provided them, because Solidaridad doesn’t see it prudent to train farmers in all the best practices and tell them that there’s nowhere to buy fertilizers.According to Mr. Gyamfi, Solidaridad will only work with Liberians who have the right sense of attitude, warning that if they don’t show the right attitude, they will be shown the exit.“So our second theory of changing intervention is to create that enabling, robust framework that allows the person who has been trained to take those sets of skills and use them. We call it robust infrastructure,” he says.

He concludes that Solidaridad is a global network organization with approximately 700 staff in 48 countries.

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor’s Policy Specialist Mr. Anthony Kesselly says the vice president observes that the Pro – Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) is well served by the programs of Solidaridad, with reference to agriculture.

He expresses the vice president’s gratitude to Solidaridad for the invitation, explaining further that in the PAPD, cocoa is projected to become the second highest agriculture export commodity by value.He notes that more than US$37m is forecasted in export earnings.

Solidaridad Oil Palm Program Manager J. Cyrus Saygbe says the CORIP and SWAPP program is a 3.8 million Euro project that will run for four years.Local farmers in the sectors hailed the program and expressed gratitude to Solidaridad and the donor partners during the launching exercise.
By Winston W. Parley

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