Liberia’s Agriculture Minister, Dr. Jeanine Cooper, has announced that her ministry is committing US$6 million toward the Accelerated Community Development Program (ACDP) to assist beneficiaries accelerate agricultural productivity.
Minister Cooper made the commitment during the handover of over six hundred thousand United States Dollars’ worth of equipment, tools, and other supplies for use by targeted cooperatives and farming groups in Bong, Gbarpolu, and Rivercess Counties as part of activities under the ACDP launched in November last year by His Excellency President George Manneh Weah.
The handover of the assorted assets, equipment, tools, and supplies performed on July 20, 2023, at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) in Monrovia, is the first phase of the implementation processes under the ACDP being managed and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Dr. Cooper described the ACDP as an approach that is holistic and ideal for solving the problem of food insecurity facing the country and gradually moving from subsistence to mechanized farming.
“This is how you maximize impact. You get impact when you work together in a coordinated way. This is exactly how the ACDP has been developed – through multiple stakeholders and donors. The Ministry of Agriculture is part of this first phase, and we will be putting in six million dollars to help 40 communities access agricultural tools and implements to accelerate their agricultural productivity,” she stressed at the ceremony.
Also speaking, the Deputy Finance and Development Minister for Budget and Planning, Madam Tanneh Brunson described the ACDP as an affirmative action to reduce poverty and inequality. Minister Brunson said the government of Liberia takes a fundamental interest in the programme to improve essential services, especially for rural populations, and that the commencement of activities is the first step to empowering rural communities.
“ACDP is the Liberian government’s way of creating an enabling environment for the development of rural communities. Although the programme implementation is on course, we recognize that given the uniqueness of the activities, challenges will arise, and as such, we encourage all stakeholders to get involved, to ensure mitigation as well as sensitization of the benefits and impacts of these interventions on beneficiary communities; but more so that desired results are achieved,” she emphasized.
The ACDP is a government-led initiative committed to the implementation of the national pro-poor agenda in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The programme is designed with a determination by the government to improve the country’s overall human development.
The handover of the assorted assets, equipment tools, and supplies, is part of the first steps being taken by UNDP to implement activities identified by major stakeholders working in a coordinated way to ensure that targeted beneficiaries and communities reap the benefits as stipulated in the project framework.
Performing the official handover, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Liberia, Christine Umutoni, said the Accelerated Community Development Programme (ACDP) is the right model for development that other countries can replicate and a manifestation that the government is in charge of its own affairs.
“This is how development should be. It must be owned by the nation. It must be led by the nation. The UN and other partners are here just to support, by providing technical assistance and other things that the government might request. But development plans and visioning must be led and implemented by the government,” Ms. Umutoni noted.
Representing the office of President Weah, Minister of State, Wesseh Blamo, said the ACDP does not only prove the government’s commitment to improving the lives of farmers, but it also aligns with Liberia’s broader national development agenda.
Minister Wesseh stressed that through sustainable agricultural practices, the government can address the pressing challenges of poverty, hunger, inequality, and climate change. “We are looking ahead of this vision with confidence. This is to enhance the innovation that will encourage farmers to actively participate in agriculture,” he said.
Minister Wesseh used the occasion to express gratitude to the UNDP for the continuous support of the development of the country and called on other development partners to contribute toward the success of the ACDP.
Earlier in remarks, Louis Kuukpen, UNDP Liberia Resident Representative a.i. thanked the government for reposing confidence in the United Nations, especially the UNDP, as the partner of choice and for the unwavering support and commitment to ACDP.
Kuukpen mentioned that the equipment and tools were procured by UNDP from an initial contribution of three million United States dollars from the government of Liberia toward the program. However, the UNDP Resident Representative, a.i. said there is more work to be done, and as such resource mobilization is critical to this effort.
“I would therefore like to request the support of the government and our development partners in ensuring that additional resources are mobilized to address the challenges,” he stated. Kuukpen reassured his institution’s commitment to ensuring that the ACDP contributes to the challenges of food insecurity, safe drinking water, and affordable energy for the rural poor.
Meanwhile, beneficiaries have thanked the Liberian government and partners for the introduction of the program reminiscing that they were tired of using the subsistence method of farming which they said was only keeping them in poverty.
“We have been wishing for a change in our farming activities. Liberia at this age can’t afford to feed itself is very worrisome. Therefore, we came together to work as a cooperative. With these farm machines and processing equipment we will be able to produce more food for the market,” said Moingbeh Kamara of the Totoquelleh Agriculture Development Association (TADA) in Gbarpolu County.
A woman farmer, Musu George of the Kpatolee Farmers’ Cooperative in Bong County also said, “We are very happy about this wonderful programme. We have worked manually and without money making it very difficult to support our families.”
Fourteen tractors and trailers, and over eighteen thousand pieces of assorted basic farming tools, including rice, cassava, sugar cane milling machines, thirty-four sets of post-harvest processing machines, and a rice thresher, were turned over to enhance the labor capacity of farming cooperatives in making use of large-scale and a more mechanized approach to farming.
Also, as part of the program activities, the construction of ten solar-powered multipurpose boreholes has commenced and drilling and pump testing of water for the two boreholes is now completed in Donfa, Bong County and Yarkpah Town, Rivercess County.
The remaining boreholes are currently ongoing in Gbarpolu County and are expected to be completed by early October 2023 along with other major interventions expected throughout the five-year programme.