Monrovia — The agriculture sector of Liberia is facing enormous challenges ranging from lack of market for local farmers to sell their produce, no storage facility and other constraints.
There have been interventions but still there are problems facing the sector and local farmers continue to complain about the situation. On Wednesday, a new project was launched in Monrovia to work with local farmers in helping to solve some of the many problems.
The Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA), a five year US$20 million United States Agency for International development (USAID) sponsored project has been launched to work with farmers over the duration of the project in finding some solutions.
Daniel Gies, Chief of Party of LADA says the project is looking to work with 20,000 farmers over the project duration to improve their ability to sell their products
"We are looking to increase the amount of money going to support the agriculture sector of this country, that means, we want more money going into the hands of farmers, we want to increase their ability to market their goods and we want to strengthen the ability of processors, transporters to get Liberian agriculture products to the market", said Gies.
He says any Liberian farmer or processor in the focused counties of Bong, Nimba, Lofa and Montserrado will benefit from the project. Other areas such as organizing business plans for farmers will be some of the initiatives to be undertaken.
"The goal of this project is to impact and increase the income of 20,000 farmers, it will benefit approximately three to four thousand each year", Chief of Party Gies said.
According to him while they will be focused on farmers ability to market their produce, boosting the ability of farmers to increase harvest will also be another area of focus.
Six value chain areas
Oscar G. Flomo, the Monitoring and Evaluation manager for the project said the project will focus on six value chain areas but has so far identified rice and cassava as the first two.
"We know some of the challenges facing farmers are low production, limited market and others, so we want to help address these areas", Flomo said. He noted that other post-harvest constraints such as storage, package, transportation and others will be some areas of focus.
Some local farmers who attended the launch of the project including Madam Lorpu M. Kollie, Paramount Chief of Zota Chiefdom in Bong County expressed the hope that the project makes a difference in their farming activities.
"We want them to help us, sometimes we have plenty cassava but nobody to buy it so it can spoil in our hands", Chief Lorpu said.
Chief Lorpu also named lack of credit to increase the size of their farms, no storage facility as some of the many problems they are encountering for which they are looking to the USAID project.
"Sometimes we have our pepper, bitter ball and plenty things to sell but nowhere to carry it, the people can come and pay any money they want or it just get rotten", the Chief lamented.
Another farmer, Leamu Boakai also made similar appeals for the new project to address the problems they are encountering.
As part of the Feed The Future (FTF), LADA project it is to increase private sector investment in the Liberian agribusiness sector, increase commercial finance to the agribusiness sector and expand commercially sustainable linkages between consumers, producers and post-harvest enterprise.
The project is also expected to increase post harvesting handling support, storage processing, transportation, marketing, and auxiliary service a US$3.0 M co-investment fund (CIF) that will provide matching grants for competitive applicants.