Liberia: Lawmaker Wants Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory Authority Empowered to Market, Export Cocoa

Monrovia — Representative Edward Karfia of Bong County has written the plenary of the House of Representatives, seeking their indulgence to amend the act of the Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory Authority Act (LACRA) of 2016.

The Act, if amended will give, LACRA the power to market and or export cocoa or coffee as it was done during LPMC days. The recommended amended Act will create according to its crafter create thereto sub-section 8.3 which seeks to establish the entity's authority for purchasing various agriculture commodities on the Liberian Market.

"This amendment if endorsed shall for the records spur trade in local agriculture commodities, increase export earnings, contribute to our national earnings and promotes Liberia Agriculture Commodities value chain integrity amongst others."

Karfia argued that considering the challenging nature of the country's economy, and the lack of support to local support, he urged plenary to act swiftly on the instrument to promote economy growth, create jobs and give optimism support to farmers and promote our Liberalization policy.

In the past, LPMC had the power to market and export cocoa beans from Liberia thus generating millions of dollars. If this act is passed by both Houses, it will give LACRA the power to exclusively export cocoa or other cash crops from Liberia.

The Act if amended, no company in Liberia will have the power or right to export cocoa except LACRA. LACRA will establish local buying stations and warehouses across the country. They will be empowered to purchase cocoa and coffee from cocoa and coffee buying companies. These companies will not have the power to export. They will serve as middle men between the farmers and LACRA.

All payment on cocoa and coffee exported by the Authority shall be paid in a transitory account established at the Central Bank of Liberia or a reputable commercial bank.

In May of 2019, the National Liberia Cocoa Exporters Association (NALICEA) expressed dismay over plans by the Liberia Agricultural Commodity Regulatory (LACRA) plans to monopolize the cocoa sector.

Sheik Turay, president of NALICEA, said the plan by LACRA is dangerous, unscrupulous and meant to destroy the cocoa sector.

The sector has over 30,000 smallholder cocoa farmers and if the monopolization is done it will destroy the investments made in the sector over the last decade by smallholders, cooperatives, the government of Liberia and the international donor communities.

"We, therefore, condemn this act of LACRA authorities in the strongest terms and consider it unpatriotic, diabolical and undermining of the development agenda of President George Weah's Pro-poor Development Agenda."

Turay said the proposed monopoly would destroy all hope of the revitalization of the cocoa sector and put fear into Liberians, who have invested in cocoa, oil palm and other cash crops.

In an interview with Deputy Director General for Technical Services, Musa Konneh, the Liberia News Agency (LINA) disclosed that LACRA will shortly have just a single exporter of cocoa due to the rigorous reform inspired by the authority's five-year strategic plan seeking to make the sector economically viable.

He said that when LACRA came into effect a year ago, there were 17 exporters of cocoa; but that number was reduced to nine.

Liberia sadly exports between 15 to 20,000 metric tons annually worth around US$50 million despite having the same climatic and topographic conditions as neighboring Côte d'Ivoire, which is the world's biggest exporter of cocoa.

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