The Director-General of Liberia's Cooperative Development Agency (CDA) Reginald Sokan-Teah has disclosed that Liberia has the potential to achieve self- sufficiency in food production once her agency gets the full support of government through its relevant ministries and agencies, especially the Liberia Land Authority and the Ministries of Agriculture, and Mines and Energy.
Speaking at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing on Thursday, April 4, 2019, the CDA boss also said her institution is working on reviewing the Act creating the Cooperative Development Agency, as the current one was crafted as far back as 1936 and legislated in 1971.
According to Madam Sokan-Teah, the role of the CDA is to regulate, monitor and supervise cooperative activities in the country, noting that it is through the CDA that government will be able to shift from subsistence to mechanized farming, as with machines Liberia will be able to quickly achieve maximum food production and become self-sufficiency in food production. "We want a full realization of our mandate", she said.
"We are also carrying on an awareness program in the various counties, and have already taken the exercise to Gbarpolu, Lofa and Grand Cape Mount Counties, in an effort to organize artisan miners into cooperatives to help them improve their incomes. We are also trying to inject into the curriculum of the University of Liberia cooperative management training so that graduates with that training background would easily find jobs," he said.
She however added that the CDA has substantially declined in playing its rightful role due to inadequate government support. "We have only one government vehicle assigned, limited logistics and this is why we are asking the government to help us re-organize our cooperatives and credit unions as our role is also to mobilize and organize farmers into cooperatives", she said.
She noted that discussions are on course with government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, for the possibility of opening up credit unions bank for the development of cooperatives and credit unions and a similar discussion is being held with the Land Authority and the Ministry of Internal Affairs for farming lands across the country", she said.
"Since this government appointed us and gave us the mandate to ensure self-sufficiency in food production within the context of the government's pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development policy. We have also been involved in engaging our development partners for assistance,"she said.
Madam Sokan-Teah said she and her team have also been visiting neighboring countries including the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria to see how cooperative development is working in there and how food is abundant in these countries while Liberia continues to import rice and other food items, the government appointed us to be on par with others in the West African sub-region" she observed.
Answering questions from reporters, The Deputy Registrar-General of the CDA Mr. Harris B. Wennks one of the longest serving employees of the agency clarified that long ago an Israeli company in Liberia known as AGRIMECO which had a policy of developing large mechanized community farms in various counties including Grand Gedeh, Bong and Nimba counties from which government was able to ensure that communities, districts and counties were able to meet a large amount of their food needs. "We still have the potential, the climate and labor in Liberia to carry on the AGRIMECO-type of mechanized communal farming," he said.
"We conduct audit of member credit union and cooperative associations, to ensure financial transparency and stability" he said.