The Director General of the Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory or LACRA, Dr. John Flomo, says Liberia is seriously challenged by lack of storage for agriculture commodity in all 15 counties.
The Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory Authority was established by an act of Legislature in 2014 to replace the Liberian Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC).
Addressing reporters at the Ministry of Information’s weekly press briefing, Dr. Flomo discloses that one of the strategies LACRA has developed is to establish storage facilities across the country, but it is faced with constraints.
“Right now as we speak, our cocoa is being discounted on the world market, because its lack certain quality; most of that is due to how people process their cocoa, but we are putting in strategy that will develop the market”, he explains.
He says at the just-ended world cocoa conference, they saw how other nations are using cocoa as an economic source to bring development to their countries, adding “This a why we invested our time in making sure that we have a clear policy framework to know how cocoa in Liberia are processed and exported.”
Dr. Flomo details that part of LACRA’s responsibility is to provide licenses for exporters of cocoa, coffee, and other agriculture commodities. “As we speak, we have licensed nine cocoa exporters, who are currently exporting cocoa form Liberia to Europe, China, and America and we are proud of ourselves of what we have achieved in this short period of time under our watch.”
He continues that LACRA has also embarked on a massive assessment of its assets, noting that during the defund LPMC, a lot of warehouses, and processing plants were abandoned in Bong and other counties, which were meant to process cocoa, rice and store them for exportation.
He says now that LACRA has inherited those properties, a tour was conducted in the counties to know what it takes to have those facilities renovated and turn over to farmers to preserve crops and other agriculture commodities.
He discloses that it would cost the agency US$1. 9 million to renovate those facilities and they are looking forward to raising that money through the national budget or from development partners to ensure that warehouses around the country are ready for farmers.
“Interns of marketing, we have decided to develop storage facility in the fifteen counties to ensure that farmers have a place to keep their crops after harvesting, because we have learned that one of the things that add values to our agriculture commodity is storage and that is lacking.”
According to him, in the absence of proper storage, crops lose values, so LACRA has started working with development partners to enlighten the market for farmers.
Dr. Flomo also discloses LACRA has begun exploring opportunity to showcase crops for exportation, noting that a delegation is expected to arrive in the country today, 18 March from Netherland to take a look at cocoa in Liberia whether it meets international market standards.
-LACRA Director General
By Lewis S. Teh –Editing by Jonathan Browne