The government of Liberia, World Bank and development partners on Monday, June 24, launched a US$23.1m Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Support Project (STCRSP).
The project is expected to increase access to finance, inputs, technologies and markets for smallholder tree crop farmers in Liberia, as well as to develop a long term development program for the tree crops sector in six counties to include Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Grand Bassa, Montserrado and Margibi), the country’s main tree crop producing counties.
According to a release issue in Monrovia, under the financing agreement, the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank is lending US$15m out of the overall US$23.1m project cost, which was approved by the Bank’s Executive Board of Directors in June 2012. The Government of Liberia is contributing US$1.1m, while project beneficiaries are to provide US$6.2m.
Other financing sources will contribute US$800,000 to the project which will target 4,900 tree crop smallholder farmers with total direct beneficiaries of 26,000 household members. Female-headed households representing 15 percent of beneficiaries are expected to benefit from the project, which will be implemented over a period of four years.
“The World Bank is pleased to support the Government’s efforts in revitalizing the agriculture sector because its role in Liberia’s economic development and poverty reduction is significant,” Ms. Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Country Manager for Liberia said, adding: “this project will enable tree crop farmers access the needed assistance in enhancing their financial, technical and economic capacity in the sector.”
The release said the project constitutes the learning phase of a longer term and larger scale tree crop development program and will test different rehabilitation, replanting and new planting models, and associated implementation and financing mechanisms for revitalizing the tree crop sector.
These models will be implemented in partnerships with concessionaires/large farms, specialized input suppliers, non-governmental organizations, farmers’ organizations (FOs) and participating financial institutions.
The release pointed out that the Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Support Project will mainly focus on cocoa/coffee revitalization: rehabilitating, replanting and newly planting cocoa and coffee farms (7,500 ha) in three counties (Bong, Nimba and Grand Gedeh); technical and management advice to smallholders and their FOs; quality promotion and marketing enhancement; access of cocoa/coffee farmers and their FOs to adapted financial services; and development of small scale processing.
The project will also support the revitalization of smallholder rubber and oil palm in Grand Gedeh, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, Margibi and Bong.
“This project is based on the promotion export-oriented economic growth, through consolidating the role of the private sector, while also facilitating rural development, increasing rural incomes and reducing poverty,” Madam Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture of Liberia, said.
Commending the World Bank for shifting its focus on the revitalization of agriculture, Minister Chenoweth added: “we are pleased that emphasis is being placed on the tree crop sector following years of conflict. We are confident that the continued assistance will pave the way for the revitalization of this sector and accelerating economic growth and development.”
She also said STCRSP prioritizes institutional building and preparation of future large scale tree crop development program, noting that this this component will strengthen the technical services of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Cooperative Development Agency; elaboration of national strategies for farmers organizations’ development of master plans for the targeted tree crops; securing land use rights of targeted smallholders; support to adaptive tree crop research and preparation of long term tree crop program.