President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Deborah R. Malac have officially inaugurated Liberia’s first industrial rice processing and warehousing facility, Fabrar Liberia Inc. in Kakata, Margibi County (April 9).
“This venture (Fabrar Liberia Inc.) is a major step forward in what we need to do as a country,” President Sirleaf said. “We have paid a lot of attention to natural resources that are extractive in nature…Agriculture is the enterprise of the future for Liberia.”
According to a press release from the U.S. Embassy, Fabrar Liberia Inc. (Fabrar) is a Liberian-owned and operated agriculture holding firm created in 2009 to tackle food insecurity in Liberia by improving the livelihoods of farmers and providing them with increased access to domestic and international food markets.
In 2014, with financial and technical support from the U.S. Government, through the USAID Food and Enterprise Development (USAID FED) program, and private equity financing from West Africa Venture Fund, the company was able to procure an automated rice processing plant, expand and renovate its facilities to ensure proper ventilation and protection from pests, mold, fungus and mildew. The newly industrialized facility, now with double its previous capacity, can mill 30 metric tons (MT) of rice each day and store 1,000 MT with proper ventilation and protection from pests, mold, fungus and mildew. As the country’s largest rice processor, and its only industrial processor, Fabrar Liberia Inc. will provide Liberian farmers with an incentive and motivation to grow quality rice as a business and not just for subsistence.
To reach the full capacity of its newly-renovated mill, Fabrar’s strategy is to expand and nurture its network of paddy-rice suppliers, many of whom also receive support from the USAID FED program.
“There is no reason that this beautiful country is not able to feed itself, and the United States Government will do everything we are able to do to support food security in Liberia,” said U.S. Ambassador Malac.
Agnes Luz, the program’s Chief of Party said “Farmers supported by USAID FED can now produce surplus rice, thanks to the provision of quality inputs and seeds and the improved knowledge and skills that they have gained through the assistance of USAID FED.” She added, “Even during the Ebola crisis, USAID FED-supported farmers were seeing record levels of rice production from their fields, thanks to the adoption of new technologies and good agricultural practices. For the first time in decades, now there is actually a surplus of local rice in Liberia.”
According to USAID FED, this all-encompassing approach to serving the rice market in Liberia – i.e. providing support to both producers and processors – is designed to create prosperous Liberian food producers and smallholder farmers that, together, can meet the consumer’s demand for quality rice.
Fabrar Liberia Inc. plans to sell the rice on the local market, targeting consumers in Monrovia as well as large scale rice contracts in the private sector and the Government of Liberia (GoL). Each year, the Government of Liberia procures over 70,000 bags (approximately 3,500 MT) of rice for government employees, school feeding programs, and various humanitarian assistance projects. Previously, that rice was supplied entirely by foreign imports due to a lack of domestic supply. Now that Fabrar Liberia Inc. is open for business the government will be able to meet that demand by milling local rice for production.
The USAID FED Program for Liberia aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians by increasing agricultural productivity and profitability across food based value chains, stimulating enterprise development and building the agriculture workforce. The program is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.
USAID FED is the largest activity in Africa under President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence and increasing food security by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, the private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.