President George Manneh Weah hit the nail on the head on Monday, 4th February when he frankly told a roundtable with officials and partners that the country is not reaping dividends on its investments in agriculture.
President Weah stressed that it is time Government and its partners derive new strategies to salvage the sector, emphasizing need to organize a technical team that would work in addressing issues and programs to achieve fruitful results.
Briefing reporters following the forum, the President explained, “We talked about how we could leave from slash and burn farming methods to mechanized farming. You know there is a huge investment in agriculture, but the outcome is so little.”
Indeed, this has been the main challenge from two former successive governments – the Taylor era and the Sirleaf administration. Time and time again, government has pronounced huge investments in this sector, sometimes characterized by elaborate agriculture fairs, but the national yields have made no impact on the nation’s food basket, which still relies on imported rice.
Past officials and even now have talked agriculture with grandeur programs and policy papers, but implementation has remained a serious challenge so much so that a nation with a population 4.5 million people rely on other countries for its staple, rice.
Notwithstanding, we have a very rich soil that is suitable for growing rice and other food. What a paradox! Something fundamentally is wronged here.
We think it is about time our policymakers and foreign partners return to the drawing board as President Weah has suggested in order to explore new approaches that would enable us to feed ourselves as a people.
President Weah should lead this revolution just he is doing in the road sector, if positive results should be achieved or else, Monday’s roundtable may just be another talking shop.
We believe very strongly that Government should use agriculture as cornerstone for its Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development or PAPD. With support from our international partners, the country’s youthful population should immediately be put to work to grow what we eat.
All that is required is political will from the authority, because previous administrations had talked agriculture, but they never produced anything substantive. So the nation continues to wallop in hunger, disease and misery.
This must change and there is no better time than now! With a youthful President, who is overwhelmingly loved by the population, we must seize the opportunity to make Liberia self-sufficient in food rather than importing yam, pepper, and oranges from neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone.