By Lincoln G. Peters
Liberia and Japan on Wednesday evening, 27 July 2022 signed the ninth round of the Kennedy Round Food Aid 2022 project which values US$3m.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia and Japan’s Embassy near the Liberian capital signed the project.
In 2008, the Government of Liberia entered into a bilateral agreement with the Government of Japan to address food security challenges here.
During the signing ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japanese Ambassador to Liberia Mochizuki Hisanobu signed on behalf of his government.
Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. signed for the Government and people of Liberia.
The Food Assistance Kennedy Round (KR), is a grant aid provided to developing countries with food shortages for the purpose of buying rice, wheat, maize or other grains.
Based on the food aid rules of the International Grain Agreement which came into effect as part of the KR at GATT in 1967, it began in 1968 and is referred to as “KR” because it came out of the Kennedy Round.
Since 2001, JICS, in accordance with contracts with developing countries’ governments, has been serving as a procurement management agent helping ensure the fair and rapid procurement of food.
It also acts as the secretariat for intergovernmental committees following up on how the food procured was distributed and monitoring accumulation of counterpart funds.
The aid is a commodity grant intended to raise money for the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) for the implementation of economic recovery projects, not in the national budget.
The purpose of these commodity grants is to support Liberia’s social-economic budget that was not captured in the fiscal budget.
Then proceeds of the KR will be reported in an extra account at CBL and all of the utilization of said fund generated is subject to the approval of the Government of Japan.
The Government of Liberia has to propose a project, which will be approved by the Japanese Government, before its implementation, upon which the Japanese government will further do the dedication.
Remarking at the signing ceremony, Liberian Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah said he was very pleased that Liberia had maintained the monetization of the project.
“I am very much pleased to say that Liberia has maintained the monetization of the Kennedy Round Rice and we will continue to do so to the fullest, accelerating our national development agenda,” said Minister Kemayah.
“Mr. Ambassador, I am pleased to inform [you] that the Government of Liberia has undertaken numerous and tangible development projects using the proceeds of these sales from the grant commodity,” Minister Kemayah stated.
In close consultation with the Japanese Counterpart Value Funded Secretarial, Minister Kemayah said Liberia has identified key future funding projects for the utilization of the proceeds of sales from the Japanese KR food aid 2020, 2021 and 2022.
He named the extension of the newly-built Duala Market, and the construction of a modern parking lot to help decongest the road corridor leading to the Monrovia – Free Town highway, the construction of two-lot market buildings, Lofa County, Foya, and Nimba County, among others.
For his part, Japanese Ambassador to Liberia Mochizuki Hisanobu noted that since 2008, Japan has been providing rice to Liberia through the Kennedy Round Food Assistance.
He said the rice is to be sold at a minimum cost in an effort to alleviate hunger in Liberia.
“I am pleased to be with you today for the signing ceremony for Food Assistance for the Japanese Fiscal Year 2022,” said Ambassador Mochizuki.
About two months ago, Amb. Mochizuki said he was in Liberia for a turning over ceremony of Food Assistance for Fiscal Year 2020 which was valued at 250,000,000 Japanese Yen or US$2.35 million.
“For today’s signing ceremony, I am delighted to announce that [the] total amount of new Food Assistance will be valued [at] 300,000,000 Japanese Yen,” he said.
The Japanese Envoy noted that this affirms his country’s adherence to the Food Assistance program and determination to continue improving food security within Liberia.–Edited by Winston W. Parley