- Policymaker calls for dialogue with actors in the sectors
Despite previous proclamation from officials of the Liberia Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (LACRA), which almost cost the institution's reputation and vivacity of Liberia's cocoa and coffee sectors, the newly revised cocoa and coffee policy targets reputations and liberation for all actors in the two sectors.
LACRA has changed its stance on a previous controversial declaration of the one-exporter policy and LACRA's warehouses' usage.
LACRA's Director-General, Dr. John S. Flomo, told participating stakeholders at the recent Cocoa and Coffee Policy Validation workshop in Ganta, Nimba County, that his institution has revised the clause.
"This has been circulating for a while now, but we have made some amendments to that," said Dr. Flomo.
The newly revised policy gives rights to exporters to process and package their raw cocoa and coffee in their respective warehouses.
Nonetheless, LACRA and stakeholders have agreed that warehouses meet hygienic and sanitary requirements, and be spacious enough, as well as the financial requirements. Also, they have agreed that Liberians and foreigners are eligible to apply for exporter's license.
Additionally, stakeholders settled that the policy categorized actors into four groupings to include Local Business Companies (LBC), Cooperatives, Exporters, and Concessionaires.
Liberians hold the exclusive rights for participation in the LBC and cooperative categories but, at the same time, LACRA has suggested that cooperatives receive certificate from the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).
Besides, LACRA and stakeholders have agreed on a suggestion that exporters purchase from a particular region instead of buying produce from all regions across the country. This, they all agreed that a one-region purchasing framework will ensure trace-ability when difficulty arises in the process.
Pricing of raw cocoa and coffee, another critical issue over the past years, was also addressed during the workshop when LACRA said that they are the only institution responsible to price local commodities, such as cocoa and coffee.
LACRA, as the government's entity, states that an operational-setup will ensure the reduction of price inflation among producers and buyers.
Other topics addressed included financial structure requirements, warehousing requirements, cocoa pricing, cocoa quality certification, cooperative registration, and conservation practices.
Meanwhile, Dr. Flomo lauded participating stakeholders and said that a strong policy will direct activities in the cocoa and coffee sector and, at the same time, yield expected results.
"Technically, we [are] supposed to review this and give it to our lawyer and our members of the Board for perusal, then we will get back to you with copies of the law.
"But we don't want to do that in this value chain. So we decided that all of us come together in this process, because it is an opportunity for all of us, exporters, development partners, and the farmers, NGOs, cooperatives. It is an opportunity for us for our voices to be part of this document so that, when we come up with a document, everyone is aware of where we are," said Flomo.
The workshop brought together stakeholders from the ministries of Agriculture and of Commerce and Industry, the CDA, GROW, USAID-LADA, Solidaridad, smallholder-corporations, individual farmers, and exporters.
Solidaridad, through the Liberia Cocoa Sector Improvement Program (LCSIP) sponsored the workshop.
Also, CDA Register General, Regina S. Teah, commended Solidaridad, LACRA, and IDH for organizing the workshop.
She said the event demonstrates inclusiveness on the part of LACRA in the cocoa and coffee sectors.