Monrovia — The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), a non-State Actors Coalition in Liberia has called on the Government of Liberia to strictly adhere to the Maputo Protocol which calls on African governments to remit ten percent of their national budgets to Agriculture.
CAADP is comprised of farmers, producer organizations, agribusiness owners, civil society organizations, and the media.
This week, from June 7-8, CAADP held a two-day meeting that aimed to create awareness about the CAADP Malabo processes.
The meeting was centered on calling on the Liberian Government to adhere to the 10 percent budget for agriculture which will reduce unemployment and solve the problem of food insecurity.
Speaking at the opening of the event, Montserrado County District Number One Representative Lawrence Morris called on Non-State actors of Liberia to remain strong in advocacy toward the 10 percent government funding.
He noted that instead of private sector serving as driving force of the economy, Liberia is completely on the opposite, adding that government is the largest employer.
Representative Morris stated that it was saddened that Liberia is yet to commit itself to the instrument it had signed to.
"It is unfortunate that Liberia is yet to live up to the commitment for agriculture to develop the country. This is why we are here to discuss the CAADP which is designed to take the citizens out of poverty. We need to use agriculture to improve the lives of the citizens. The non-state actors must hold the authorities for the CAADP," he said.
According to Morris, agriculture was a cross-cutting issue and as such there is a need for Liberia to ensure that it is a priority.
"The country has enormous strength and opportunities. We are depending on the international community for our agriculture but we need to make it our business to prioritize agriculture. When we make agriculture a priority we will create more employment for the citizens," he mentioned.
The lawmaker said though Liberia has made some gains for agriculture there is still a need to step up to the task.
"Making agriculture as a vehicle for transformation is a choice but here, our focus is on other issues. The CAADP document supports the PAPD that is meant to improve the lives of the poor people, youth and women. Are we going to again organize another workshop? I am glad to see many stakeholders from agriculture here who should be driving this process. It is not just to hold workshops but it is about non-state actors to make sure that what the authorities have said is done," he said.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator Regional Expert & President of the ECOWAS Non-State Actors, H. Augustus Roberts said that the meeting is intended to educate the participants on what the CAADP is all about.
He said that the AU and ECOWAS expect non-state actors to take more action that will cause the government to prioritize the 10 percent budget for agriculture.
Robert explained that there is a need for members of the private sector to get a clear understanding about the CAADP.
"But this is not just about the CAADP, it is about economic development and how to reduce hunger and malnutrition. We still have issues with stunting and we want to show how we can use agriculture to solve problems," he said.
For his part, the Officer-In-Charge for the Department of Planning and Development, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Jeanine Cooper, Dennis Wiagbe said that the Ministry was working with members of the private sector to make the CAADP process a reality in Liberia.
"The non-state actors have not been given much attention. The Minister of Agriculture has endeavored to organize the private sector. We wish to continue this collaboration to ensure that CSO becomes active for the process," he said.
Action Aid Liberia Country Representative, Elizabeth Johnson reminded those in attendance at the two-day workshop that Agriculture cannot be fully discussed without firstly finding possible solution to issues of climate change.
Madam Johnson wants the civil society to engage state actors for increased budgetary appropriation to the agriculture sector.
She noted that while other countries are moving forward in Agriculture, Liberia is still moving on a snail pace due to low budgetary allotment.
She pledged her institution's commitment to supporting the comprehensive African Development Program both financially and technically in ensuring that the overall objective of their dream is actualized.
She added that to be successful, the nation must be able to feed herself rather than depending on countries with less natural resources and soil to feed them.
Meanwhile, the meeting, which comes during the 4th biennial review process of the CAADP, was organized by the Liberian non-State actors' coalition and ActionAid Liberia (AAL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture.
It was held under the theme, 'Agriculture -- the Vehicle for Sustained Economic Development, Poverty Reduction and Food and Nutrition Security'.
The CAADP Malabo calls for every African government to allot 10 percent of its total national budget annually for agriculture in order to reduce poverty, create jobs, and to improve food security in members' countries.