Gov’t Admits Decline In Agro Sector…As Grow Launches US$22m Project

The Government of Liberia through Finance, Development, Planning Minister, Amara Konneh has admitted that the agricultural sector is rapidly declining.

Minister Konneh said the sharp decline in the sector is due to external and internal factors. Konneh said there was a decline in the nation’s economy especially in the agricultural industry prior to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

Speaking at the launch of Grow’s making “Markets Work for the Poor” (M4P) agricultural market development program in Monrovia yesterday, Minister Konneh said agriculture is an integral part of the nation’s economy but the sector continued to decline since 2006. He said since 2011, the output of the agricultural industry has declined.   “There was further decline in the agricultural sector in 2014 by one percent,” Konneh admitted.

The Finance, Development Minister added that the decline in the sector is not healthy for the nation’s economy as Liberia is an import intensive country. Minister Konneh said government has endorsed Grow’s agriculture program and called on ministries and agencies in the country to reduce the bureaucratic bottleneck in the agricultural sector.

He said the rubber and iron ore industries continue to decline in the country due to external factors and then called on the Liberian Government to prioritize the agricultural sector by infusing more money into the sector.

Meanwhile, Minister Konneh has called on the Liberian Government and the private sector to strengthen and support the agricultural sector for Liberia to be self-sustainable in the production of food and for the importation of agricultural products on the world market.

Also speaking, Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Sofia Strand, said Grow’s program is a comprehensive, designed program. Amb. Strand said Sweden is a long standing partner to Liberia and will continue to support the country in its developmental drives.

Amd. Strand added that Grow’s project is based on a long term program intended to support the agro industry in Liberia and that the organization is pumping in 17 million Ero (US$22 million) in a five-year agricultural program in Liberia.

For his part, the President, Chief Executive Officer of the Liberia Bank for Development & Investment, John B.S. Davies who is also President of the Bankers Association, pledged the commercial banks’ unflinching support to the agricultural sector and called on government to support the private sector describing the private sector as an engine of every nation.

Grow’s program in Liberia is expected to empower 230,000 farmers. Yesterday, Grow launched its landmark “Making Markets Work for the Poor” (M4P) agricultural market development program. The GROW-led M4P approach to agricultural intervention is expected to reduce poverty and increase stability in Liberia for 230,000 poor women, men and youths in targeted agricultural markets.

The launch of the program according to group executives is a celebration of the first year of successful interventions in the vegetable, cocoa, oil palm and rubber sectors.