New Democrat (Monrovia)

28 January 2013

Liberia: Millions Lost in Export

Due to the low and inferior quality of products exported b farmers in the country, Liberia loses million of dollars in the international market annually according to Nya Mantein, Managing Director, Liberia Produce Marketing Cooperation (LPMC).

"The quality of products leaving Liberia is being discounted by US$150 per 1000 metric tons. Last year alone, we exported 20,000 metric tons of farm products.

"The discount is as a result of low quality or inferior products that are produced in Liberia," Mr. Mantein revealed.

Farming is one of the jobs that attracts thousands of citizens in rural parts, with Nimba, Bong and Lofa County accounting for the highest.

Despite the constraint and challenges, these three counties are regarded today as the three main giants that supply the country's bread basket.

But at a three-day workshop which attracted farmers from Bong, Nimba and Lofa, Mr. Mantein disclosed that both the farmers and government were losing millions of dollars annually as a result of the low quality of products that leave their farms for the international market.

"The farmers are losing, and the government is also losing millions of dollars too. This workshop is intended to improve that by turning it into a positive result for the benefit of the farmers and the country at large," he emphasized.

He noted that as the main exporter of farm products, the LPMC is now desirous of transitioning from its previous role to that of being regulators to regulate the farm market of the country.

"The LPMC has to take the lead as the regulator of the produce market of Liberia. There can be no better time for us to begin that, than now.

"Because the whole agricultural trade sector of our country is just open, there is no actual regulation. We want that to change as it is being done in other countries. From the experiences we have gathered from the other areas, we need to repeat those same strategies here to achieve a better result," he said.

Mr. Maintein also said that there were proposals for the current nomenclature of the country's produce agency to be changed to the Liberia Agricultural Commodity Regulatory Agency (LACRA) to effectively function in that capacity.

Also speaking at the workshop under a themee that focused on the challenges, opportunities and prospects for a sustainable cocoa and coffee industry in Liberia," Prencetta Clinton-Varmah who served as the proxy for

Florence A. Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture said that to revitalize the small tree crop productions, the

Ministry of Agriculture was currently implementing about US$140 million worth of donor funded projects in its program management unit.

"Two of these projects are small-holder tree crop pilot projects, focusing mainly on cocoa, coffee, oil palm and rubber. The first main priority is cocoa, followed by coffee, oil palm and rubber," she said.

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