Monrovia — The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) has purchased 100bags (5 MT) of rice grown in Liberia from the local rice processor, Fabrar Liberia, as part of the MoCI's initiative to support the Government of Liberia (GoL) in requiring GoL entities to set aside at least 25% of all public procurement opportunities for Liberian businesses.
The Small Business Empowerment Act would provide a lucrative opportunity for rice farmers and processors. Each year, the GoL procures large quantities of rice for government employees, school feeding programs, and various humanitarian assistance projects amounting to over 70,000 bags annually (approximately 3,500 MT). Previously, that rice was supplied entirely by foreign imports due to a lack of domestic supply.
The GoL purchased rice grown in Lofa County by farmers participating in the USAID Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program and processed by local rice mill Fabrar Liberia. "With this initial purchase, MoCI hopes to kick start the process and encourage other ministries to follow suit. MoCI is committed to supporting local farmers and expects to purchase more locally grown rice to fulfill our rice requirement in the future," explains Pewee Reed, Director of MoCI's Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise Division.
In May, Fabrar Liberia bought 3,260 bags (163 MT) of rice--worth $63,500 USD--from 550 farmers in Lofa County. Fabrar Liberia plans to sell the rice on the local market, targeting consumers in Monrovia as well as large scale rice contracts in the private sector and the GoL.
Since 2012, the farmers have received support from the USAID FED program ranging from improved seeds, tools and inputs to technical support. USAID FED also provides strategic assistance in land preparation, such as facilitating access to power tillers and building permanent irrigation structures on lowland fields.
USAID FED has supported Fabrar Liberia through the renovation of its warehouse facilities in Kakata, the purchase and installation of Liberia's first automated rice milling line, and an electric power generator which runs on non-edible palm oil instead of gasoline.
"The rice sector is improving in production and organization, and our capacity to mill rice is higher than it's ever been in Liberia's history. While USAID FED increases the capacity of farmers, the government and the private sector need to unite under a moral obligation to buy local rice," says the CEO of Fabrar Liberia, Fabio Lavelanet.
Fabrar Liberia plans to procure an additional 20 MT of rice--worth $7,200 USD--from farmers in Nimba County, which will be sourced through USAID FED supported community rice business hubs.
About Fabrar Liberia
Fabrar Liberia is a fully incorporated Liberian owned and run agriculture holding firm created in 2009 to tackle food insecurity in Liberia by improving the livelihoods of farmers and providing them with increased access to domestic and international food markets. Through private equity and equity financing from West Africa Venture Fund, Fabrar Liberia secured funding worth $500,000 USD in 2013 to expand the milling site in Kakata to a capacity of 30 MT of rice per day. To reach full capacity, Fabrar has a strategy to expand and nurture its network of paddy-rice suppliers. This all-encompassing approach to serving the rice market in Liberia is designed to create prosperous Liberian food producers and smallholder farmers that, together, can meet the consumer's demand for quality rice.
About USAID FED
The USAID FED Program for Liberia aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians through increased agricultural productivity and profitability in rice, cassava, vegetable and goat value chains. It is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.The United States - as the largest donor and closest ally - is supporting the Liberian priorities to build sustainable local capacity, make a difference in people's lives, and move towards a shared vision of self-sufficiency and prosperity. For more information please visit. www.usaid.gov. USAID FED is Africa's largest project under President Barack Obama's Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence and increasing food security by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, the private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.