Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has told the World Bank Country Director here that Liberian farmers have not reach a level where they can produce, process and market at the same time. Speaking when he met with a three man delegation from the World Bank headed by its Liberia Country Office Manager, Madam Inguna Dobraja, Amb. Boakai said the situation whereby local farmers had to produce, process and market was not working in the best interest of the local farmers.
He said there must be institutions that will process after buying from the farmers and those that will sell after processing, the smallholders of farms will only be concern with production, a release from the Office of the Vice President quoted him as saying.
Vice President Boakai said he wants to see a comprehensive program put into place where farmers will not operate loosely, because they will not achieve much as individuals, but operate under a strong cooperative system that will support and strengthen cooperatives around the nation.
He said conversation around this concept must be centered on the interest of the farmers, and that farmers should have access to financing and stressed that farmers will not benefit if they sell their produce loosely but through aggregate bodies.
Vice President Boakai pointed out that Liberia has the soil, rain and the conditions for the production of food to make the nation self-sufficient and underscored that it is not fair to the world if we failed to produce food.
He said there are weaknesses in the area of extension, and that we have to move from power point presentations to realities if we will achieve self-sufficiency in food production in Liberia and that activities must be properly coordinated if farmers should benefit, something that is not happening in the sector at the moment.
He said farmers must have an alternative to sell their produce on the market and spoke of the need for agrifinancing as a springboard to empower the agricultural sector and also give farmers comparative advantage.
For her part, the World Bank Liberia Country Office Manager said institutional linkages, extension services and financing are important in the process and that agriculture is the way forward for Liberia and Africa in general.
Madam Dobraja said quality seed is not a problem for Liberia and spoke of the Central Agricultural Research Institute as one of the best in the region, noting, if the right mechanisms are put into place it will take Liberia two years to achieve self-sufficiency in Food production, the release said.
According to a project brief presented to the Vice President, the objective of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program is to improve the productivity of rice and cassava along their value chain in order to enhance Liberia’s food self-sufficiency and regional competitiveness within the frame of the agricultural sector development policy or strategy, the Liberia National Rice Development Strategy and the cassava development strategy.
Activities covered by the project are broken down into four components which include enabling conditions for regional cooperation and marketing integration, national centers of specialization, and funding of demand-driven technology generation and dissemination.
On the other hand the smallholder tree crops revitalization support project objective is to increase access to finance, inputs, technologies and markets for smallholder tress crop farmers in Liberia, and to develop a long term development program for the tree crops sector.