Liberia: Govt Receives U.S.$23 Million Boost for Cocoa Sector

... To boost Liberia's Agriculture Sector, Others

To add value to the country's agriculture sector, the government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), signed the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) financing agreement worth US$23 million to boost the agriculture sector, referencing Cocoa. IFAD is a donor-funded program that intends to support the Liberian agriculture sector.

The signing ceremony, which was held on Thursday, November 21, 2019, also provided the Tree Crops Extension Project (TCEP) of additional financing in the tune of US$9 million to support the rehabilitation of rural roads in the project area of Nimba County.

The STAR-P is aligned with the World Bank Group's (WBG) twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity and the emerging priorities of Liberia's new administration as reflected in the government's five-year Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

It also focuses on the economic empowerment of farmers and will directly contribute towards increasing shared prosperity and helping Liberia tackle its worsening challenge of poverty.

At the signing ceremony, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, extolled IFAD and the World Bank for such intervention that will bring relief to farmers, particularly those in the cocoa production sector.

Tweah assured that the government and people will remain grateful for such intervention, most specifically when they are making all necessary strides to ensure that agriculture takes center stage as the bedrock of the country's economy.

He then told IFAD and World Bank delegation that if Liberia will lift its people out poverty, it will happen in the agriculture space, "because it has a lot of potentials to employ people and make Liberia a food security nation."

Tweah said by now, the country should have done better in the sector, because, prior to its civil crisis, the country saw a rise in cocoa production, and for some reason, the module was changed.

In reference to Ghana, La Cote d'Ivoire, who are doing better in the cocoa sector, Tweah sees no reason why Liberia cannot do better, "so it is incumbent upon the government and partners to ensure that the secure is well supported to meet the reality."

IFAD Senior Officer for West and Central Africa, Radu D. Miaryov, said the signing the STAR-P Financing Agreement and the TCEP, are being done at a critical point where Liberia is facing serious economic challenges in which these agreements will boost the cocoa agriculture sector and add value chain to it.

The project, Miaryov said intends to strengthen cocoa production, mainly replanting by ensuring a real increase in its production.

This, according to him, is in the context of the cocoa sector that has a very promising expectation; and a very potential to increase revenue for farmers and the government.

Miaryov added, "Right now, I believe that 12 percent cash crops export are from the cocoa sector, and there is an expectation that employment can be tripled within the next 10 years, specifically the youth employment."

This particular document, which we have signed today, will also boost road connectivity in project areas so as to ease the difficulty that farmers face in bringing their products to the market.

"I believe that once we start, and production become for real, the project will increase the production of cocoa to 10,000 metric tons to be valued at US$25 million on an annual basis for the country," said Miaryov.

Earlier, Assistant Agriculture Minister for Administration, Ernest J. Clarke, who spoke on behalf of the Acting Minister, Madam Precious K. Tetteh, expressed gratitude to IFAD for the additional financing initiative, which he said will go a long way in building the capacity of farmers in nine of the 15 counties, including Bong and Nimba.

Clarke said the additional financing agreement, will also help boosts the country's economic growth.

"We can assure you that the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is committed to this process; and we will ensure that the project achieved its objective," he said.

Mr. Clarke told the IFAD delegation that the MoA has some of its best technicians, who are being assigned with the project to make sure it is well implemented.

He then acknowledged Minister Tweah for the 'tireless efforts in bringing the partners together for the successful implementation of the financing agreements.

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