Participants discussing the way forward to develop the Land Use Suitability Map
Liberia is endowed with natural resources and is home to two-thirds of West Africa's remaining rainforest. However, due to the lack of state-of-the art technology supported land information systems, the country is not adequately benefiting from the suitable use of its natural resources.
The lack of suitable land classification also hinders national effort for the development of agriculture and forestry and adversely affects ongoing promotion activities aimed at attracting foreign and domestic investments.
To ensure that the country benefits substantially from the suitable use of its natural resources, the Ministry of Agriculture and other government ministries and agencies, as well as the University of Liberia in collaboration with development partners are endeavoring to very soon commence the mapping of agriculture land resources. They will also begin the development of a 'land suitability map' that will reinforce the national strategies for expanding the country's agriculture and forestry sectors.
It may be recalled that in July 2016, the MOA requested technical assistance from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Institute of Survey Remote Sensing and Land Information in Boku, Vienna, Austria to carry out this exercise. In February 2017, the MOA made another request to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), to which both institutions responded favorably.
Meanwhile, a technical fact-finding mission from FAO's Regional Office for Africa was proposed to assess the situation and better understand the issues of concern and decide on the way forward.
Earlier in June, Head of the Land and Water Resource Division (CBL) of the FAO Regional Office for Africa, Mr. Eugene Rurangwa, visited Liberia on a needs assessment mission and held meetings with representatives from development partners, including the FAO, European Union Mission, the United Nation Development Program Division for Energy and Environment, and from a cross-section of government institutions engaged with natural resources and investment promotion activities such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Bureau of National Concessions, the Ministry of Land Mine and Energy, the newly formed National Land Authority, the Ministry of Public Works, Forestry Development Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Liberia Institute for Geo-information Services (LIGIS), National Investment Commission (NIC) and others.
During the visit, Mr. Rurangwa was appreciative that there are several institutions in Liberia dealing with land use, planning and administration, and said the gathering of information on soil, land and a suitable map from previous soil and land study reports will greatly assist in the prioritization of activities to be carried out for the efficient and effective use of available limited resources.
He thanked all institutions that were contacted during the needs assessment mission for their positive attitude, collaboration, contribution, and support towards the proposed initiative.
The Deputy Minister for Regional Development Research and Extension at the MOA, Thomas Gbokie, Jr., indicated that Government had earlier received assistance through the FAO for the implementation of a project titled "Land Resources Assessment for Land Use Planning," but that the civil crisis disrupted the project.
Gbokie also informed participants at a debriefing meeting at the FAO's office in Monrovia that the Liberian Government welcomes partners and other institutions.