The Ministry of Agriculture has launched a US$23.1 million Smallholders Tree Crops Revitalization Support Project (STCRSP) to be implemented in six counties, namely Montserrado, Margibi, Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Grand Bassa.
The first phase of the project constitutes a longer term tree crop development programs, targeting smallholders.
It will involve the implementing of the various rehabilitations, replanting and new planting models associated with financing mechanisms for revitalizing the tree crop sector.
The project will be implemented in partnership with concessionaries (large firms) NGOs, Farmer Organization and financial institutions in the six counties.
An Agriculture Ministry press release says the Smallholders Tree Crop Revitalization project has three main components. The first focuses on cocoa and coffee and small-scale oil palm and rubber. The other two components include institutional building and preparation of long term program and project coordination and management.
The smallholders’ tree crop project is part of efforts by the Government of Liberia to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development and improve the standard of the people.
It represents pillar two of the PRS, which is economic revitalization based on the promotion of export oriented economic growth, through consolidating role of the private sector. It will also enhance rural development, increase rural income and contribute to poverty reduction in Liberia.
The project is also in line with the current Country Assistance Strategy of the World Bank and would facilitate the proper growth and rehabilitation of infrastructures.
It is also fully aligned with the 2010-2020 Liberia Agriculture Sector Investment Program (LASIP) developed by the Government of Liberia in 2008/2009 following an extensive stakeholders’ consultation.
The project will lead to tree crop production and value addition that will benefit farmers. It will improve the livelihoods and increase income of tree crop smallholders as well as improve food security and reduce vulnerability especially those related to climate change and rising food prices.
Moreover, the project intends to reduce cost of transaction and post-harvest through the rehabilitation of feeder roads and marketing linkages. It will also improve access to adapted financial services by farmer’s organization and their members.
The project will enhance market/business opportunities and economies of scales benefiting actors of the supply chains under win-win arrangement and promotion of public-private partnership.
It will furthermore increase value addition of tree crop production, particularly cocoa, coffee and oil palm through marketing and farmers organizations and strengthen the promotion of professional small and medium scale processing.
The ceremony brought together stakeholders from the Agriculture Sector including members of farmers’ organizations, the House Committee on Agriculture headed by Representative Josephine Francis; the World Bank Country Manager, Ms. Inguna Dobraja and the chairman of the Land Commission, Othello Brandy, among others.
Providing an overview of the tree crop sector, the Deputy Minister for Technical services at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Sizi Subah, outlined the number of challenges that must be dealt with appropriately to ensure the revitalization of the sector of Liberia.
Dr. Subah named land tenure, acute labor shortage, limited access to markets, agricultural financing, improved planting, participation of the private sector in providing value chain services and poor quality of cocoa and coffee.
Presenting an overview of the project, Director of PMU, Dr. Moses Zinnah said it is intended to create opportunities for smallholder tree crops farmers in Liberia particularly the six counties. Dr. Zinnah reiterated that the project is inline with government’s Agenda for Transformation and the strategy for agricultural development, LASIP.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, urged members of the small tree crop sector to take ownership of the project by doing all it takes to make it successful.