Liberia: Agriculture Minister-Designate May Be Confirmed Today

Agriculture Minister-designate, Jeanine Cooper at her confirmation hearing: I don't believe that I have the magic wand, but I believe that I have the magic touch that I will bring to the table."

Moments following a moving and what was seen as a splendid performance, Senate sources have confided in this paper's Legislative reporter that Madam Jeanine M. Cooper may be recommended by the Senate Committee on Agriculture for confirmation today. The confirmation is to be done by the Senate Plenary.

Appearing before the Agriculture Committee, chaired by Senator Victor Varney Watson yesterday, Madam Cooper assured that if confirmed, the Agriculture Ministry will cease to be used as an institution for workshops and training centers, but one that will serve as a repository for farmers seeking assistance to acquire agriculture seedlings and other agriculture-related information.

"When confirmed, I will look forward to making sure that the funding that is coming, that is available now, is properly coordinated and steered in the direction that will benefit Liberia, Liberian agriculture and Liberia's economic development," Madam Cooper assured the Senators.

She observed that part of the problem in past administrations had been the lack of proper screening to ensure whether what is allocated to the sector is the actual need. "Sometimes you go to some towns and see signboards of about ten NGOs, and the people are still living as they were living in the last century, and you wonder what that is. I don't believe that I have the magic wand, but I believe that I have the magic touch that I will bring to the table."

Continuing, Madam Cooper emphasized that: "I will most definitely be looking and scrutinizing very keenly any funding that is coming into the sector, to make sure that it is prospering Liberians; I am not saying sustaining Liberians or developing Liberians, but prospering Liberians; that will be some of the things I will like to do."

She asserted that one of the first priorities of her term at the Ministry is to measure "what we have now, because I don't think we have a good idea, all the studies and other reports that are out there have not given us a good idea of what we have."

"My vision is of a thriving and a prosperous Agriculture sector that brands Liberia as a source of high quality, ethically produced, environmentally friendly food and agricultural products. When they say it comes from Liberia it must mean quality, vision of prosperity and wealth, not hard work and hard labor and subsistence, we have to move beyond that; this is the 21st Century."

With respect to whether her assignments as Minister of Agriculture will not conflict with her current ownership of the rice-producing company she founded in 2009, Madam Cooper disclosed that her team of lawyers is already doing the necessary paperwork that will give her the right to transfer her share to another person within the company known as FABRAR Liberia.

Yesterday's hearing was attended by a high-power team of employees from the Ministry of Agriculture, her current rice-producing firm, her mother, former Superintendent of Grand Bassa County Madam Etweeda"Sugars" Cooper, and a host of friends and other supporters.

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