19 July 2012

Liberia, World Bank Sign $15 Million Agreement to Boost Agriculture

The Liberian Government and the World Bank have signed a US$15 million credit from the Bank to increase access to finance, inputs, technologies and markets for smallholder tree crop farmers in Liberia, and to develop a long term development program for the tree crops sector.

This Smallholder Tree Crops Revitalization Support Project (STCRSP) would be implemented over a period of four years in several districts of Liberia's main tree crop producing counties and the project is expected to benefit more than 26,000 farming household members, a Press Release from the Ministry of Finance says.

At the signing ceremony Wednesday, Finance Minister Amara Konneh thanked the World Bank. He adds the support will go a long way in resuscitating and expanding the Liberian agriculture sector which, according to him constitutes a large portion of the Liberian economy. Minister Konneh said the Bank's support will increase income of smallholder farmers and assist in building their capacity to boost productivity in the sector. "To all cocoa and coffee producers out there, help is on the way," assures Minister Konneh.

Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture, Florence Chenoweth noted the Bank's support will help develop the agriculture sector and generate more revenue for Liberia's economy. The World Bank Country Manager, Inguna Dobraja said the credit agreement will initiate a large scale smallholder tree crops development for the future and prepare a master plan to target tree crops and develop solutions in addressing the systemic issues affecting the crop sector.

The World Bank Executive Board of Directors approved this International Development Association (IDA) credit recently. The project constitutes the learning phase of a longer term and larger scale tree crop development program. It 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 project targets 4,900 tree crop smallholders' farmers adding up to a total direct beneficiary population of 26,000 household members. Focus will be placed on a limited number of project areas in Montserrado, Bong, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties to ensure visibility and impact.

The project, which is to be managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, has three components. The first is the Smallholder Tree Crops Revitalization: rehabilitating, replanting and newly planting cocoa and coffee farms (7,500 ha); revitalization of an oil palm plantation run by smallholders and an oil palm out growers scheme around a concessionaire (1,200 ha of rehabilitation/replanting); and replanting and extension of rubber farms (2,600 ha) in partnership with one concessionaire and one large Liberian estate.

The project will support technical and management advice to smallholders and their Farmers Organizations, quality promotion and marketing enhancement; access of farmers and their FOs to adapted financial services; development of small scale processing for cocoa, coffee and oil palm; and rehabilitation of critical farm access.

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