16 November 2016

Liberia: 'Encourage Roles for Women in Agriculture'

The vice president for Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) has underscored the role women play in agriculture in most developing countries.

As such, Ms. Sheryl Cowan has urged the Liberian government to empower women so they too can contribute to the enhancement of the country's food security.

Ms. Cowan made the statement yesterday when she served as guest speaker at a program marking the 2016 Medium Small Micro Enterprise (MSME) conference in Monrovia.

The occasion was attended by Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Commerce Minister Axel Addy, and other distinguished personalities.

CNFA is an international agricultural organization working with several countries to create opportunities to improve on food security.

In Liberia, the entity implements the Liberia Agri-business Development Activity (LADA), a US$20 million agriculture project sponsored by the U. S government under the Feed the Future Global Food Security Initiative.

This year's MSME conference highlights the promotion of Liberian female entrepreneurs for economic empowerment, and is held under the theme, "From Vision to Implementation; Buying Liberian and Building Liberia."

"Majority of farmers in Liberia are women who represent more than 50 percent of the country's farming population. They serve as farmers, processors and entrepreneurs who have reportedly produced more than 60 percent of Liberia's agricultural output.

"Therefore, C Ms. Cowan said.

She said considering the significant role women are playing in agriculture, the Liberia agri-business project will ensure that more female farmers are recruited as beneficiaries. The project is implemented by CNFA.

"To understand the need of women to actively participate in agriculture production in the country, we have shaped our approach where LADA will increase private sector investment in the agricultural input system; engage both males and females with particular emphasis on women's participation in the agro-dealers input sector. This, I believe, will improve the income of women as the sector has limited women for entrepreneurship," Ms Cowan added.

She said LADA will build the capacity of females to become more knowledgeable and experienced agro-input dealers, adding, "We have already started the training of agro-dealers who will serve as extension officers," Cowan said.

She said to further increase private sector investment in the area of postharvest handling, storage, packaging, transportation, and auxiliary services, both males and females will become beneficiaries. "We are targeting more female beneficiaries as they often lack access to information in these areas, thereby making it difficult to make informed decisions as well as learn new opportunities. We have set up a US$3 million co-investment fund as a matching grant to increase the assets of smallholder farmers," Ms Cowan said.

She used the opportunity to announce the launch of the Agro-Business Investment Network -a medium to highlight issues such as taxes and tariffs that could hinder the growth of entrepreneurs in Liberia's agriculture sector.

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