Monrovia — Solidaridad West Africa and the European Union have signed a grant agreement in the tune of five million euros to expand Solidaridad's cocoa development programs in Liberia.
The Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, Isaac Gyamfi, and the EU Team Leader for Resilience, Ivan Borisavljevic signed on behalf of their respective institutions.
Under the agreement, the EU is contributing 4 million euros, while Solidaridad is contributing 1 million euros to implement the Cocoa Value Chain Development Program (COVADEP).
The overall goal of the program is to reduce poverty through increased resilience and competitiveness in the cocoa sector and improve cocoa farmer livelihood and food security. It will be implemented in five counties including Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and River Gee.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Monrovia on Friday, Mr. Gyamfi pledged his organization's commitment to use the resources to improve the sector and the livelihood of the farmers.
"As we sign this agreement as Regional Director for Operation, I want to assure the Government and development partners and our brothers in the field that we are going to use the resources to improve their living conditions, create sustainable cocoa supply chain that fits into the global development trench when it comes to cocoa development," he said.
Solidaridad opened its Liberia's office in 2015 and signed a major grant agreement with the EU in 2017 to implement the ongoing Liberia Cocoa Sector Improvement Program (LICSIP) in Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.
Under the program which runs from 2018 to 2022, Solidaridad is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, farmers and agro-businesses to improve the quality of Liberian cocoa and increase cocoa exports.
Mr. Gyamfi expressed optimism over the two programs and vowed to pull all of the organization's skills and expertise to yield the desired results.
"We will leverage all the skills, partnership, knowledge and expertise that we have in the sub-region and see how it can fit and be adapted into the local context. We believe by the end of the day after the four year duration, plus the already two years left for LICSIP, we can one day meet over champagne and share what change we have brought to the community and what smiles we have brought on the faces of our people," he enthused.
Also speaking, the EU Team Leader for Resilience, Ivan Borisavljevic noted the grant is in support of the EU rural development sector program.
Mr. Borisavljevic expressed hope that Solidaridad will use its wealth of experience and expertise to successfully implement the program.
For his part, the Deputy Minister for Planning and Development at the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Robert Fagans emphasized that the ministry appreciates all of the support of the EU and Solidaridad to the sector over the years.
Speaking further, Fagans stressed the need for MOA's close collaboration and monitoring to ensure the goals and objectives of the project are realized.
He said over the years, several organizations, with support from multilateral partners and organizations have implemented multi-million dollars projects in the agriculture sector, but there have been no tangible results, and it was now time to change the narratives.
About The Project
According to Solidaridad Liberia's Program Manager for Cocoa, Boima Bafaie, the overall goal of the Cocoa Value Chain Development Program (COVADEP) is to reduce poverty through increased resilience and competitiveness in the cocoa sector and improve cocoa farmer livelihood and food security.
This new program which targets 3,000 farmers, he said, will extend the CCDs model to two additional counties, River Gee and Grand Gedeh, while expanding in the existing operating counties of Bong, Lofa and Nimba with the help of current and new local partners.
Bafaie added that this will involve the setting up of ten additional centers for cocoa development as a one stop shop and small medium enterprises to drive sector production, improvement within the supply chain of the private companies and producer organizations.
The CCD will be supported with capacity to develop sustain production diversification, rehabilitation support and marketing services to farmers in Liberia.
In addition, COVADEP will also promote the value addition through the transformation of cocoa bean into processed products for local consumption and job creation in Liberia and within the sub region. Solidaridad will leverage its experience in additional cocoa processing in Central America and West Africa to develop cocoa bean value added product, working with local companies in Liberia, specifically in Lofa and Nimba Counties.