The Central Bank of Liberia has officially launched its Agricultural Stimulus Initiative on the Cuttington University Campus in Suakoko, Bong County.
A farmer field school in Sanoyea Town, Bong County, Liberia. Photo Credit: ACDI/VOCA.
The CBL Stimulus initiative contains 7.5 million US Dollar support to Liberian farmers in the Agriculture and Fisheries sectors of the country. Launching the scheme, the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. Mills Jones said the agriculture stimulus initiative was part of many initiatives undertaken by the bank to help Liberian small and medium enterprises with the intention of improving economic growth, as well as improving the lives of ordinary Liberians.
He also noted that in recent times, the CBL was launched its mortgage program, emphasizing that the bank's actions were set with the goals of the Liberian government in lifting Liberia and Liberians.
The CBL Executive Governor told a gathering of farmers and dignitaries that if the government was to improve the standards of living and make a significant move against unemployment, stronger efforts must be made in strengthening agriculture, adding that agriculture accounts for about ninety percent of rural employment.
He emphasized the importance to invest in the sector, admonishing farmers to repay whatever loan to be given them, saying loans would be given to individual farmers and cooperatives around the country.
He said it was unacceptable for the agriculture sector as an important sector in the county to have only 4.6 percent of total credit at the end of 2011, maintaining that the agriculture sector must be given added attention.
He said the loans will be disbursed with reasonable interest rate with repayment periods suitable to the activities for which the loan is taken. According to Dr. Mills Jones, the agriculture stimulus loan has the potential of making a difference, assuring Liberians that the Central Bank of Liberia would continue to find innovative ways to speed-up Liberia's development.
In her remarks, the Chairman of the House's Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Representative Josephine George Francis applauded the Central Bank of Liberia for the opportunity given to farmers to expand their operations. Francis said it was a new day in the country for farmers 'to walk to the bank' to obtain loans.
She encouraged the loan-implementing partner to seriously considered women who were engaged in farming activities, describing the CBL program as a good beginning for the farmers to have the opportunity to walk at bank for loans.
She stated that this was no time for international NGOs to represent Liberia at international agricultural occasion, saying Liberians know their own problems and not those coming from abroad.
The program, which brought together farmers from across the country, was also attended by the CEO of Afriland First Bank (the implementing arm of the loan program on behalf of the Central Bank of Liberia), among others.
The farmers also expressed gratitude to the CBL, describing its loan scheme as a sincere and practical step toward developing the agriculture sector in Liberia. With the provision of 7. 5 million United States Dollars, the famers said, there was total hope for gradual improvement in farming.
They called on the CBL not to absolutely leave the implementation of the loans program with the bank, but ensure periodic monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the program.