In an effort to address challenges faced in the agricultural sector of Liberia, at least 75 stakeholders in the sector are currently participating in a day 3 day workshop on agricultural research development in Kakata, Mar-Gibi County.
The participants comprised of stakeholders from non-governmental organizations in the agriculture sector, civil society farmer’s organizations, extension workers, and local farmers.
The workshop is being organized by the West African Agricultural Productivity Program(WAAPP-Liberia), with support from the World Bank and the government of Japan.
It is intended to strengthen the capacity of WAAPP’s stakeholders in understanding the process and skills for the application of Integrated Agricultural Research for development to impact agriculture in the country.
WAAPP-Liberia is a ten year project of the Ministry of Agriculture meant to increase the production of rice and cassava in Liberia.
Speaking during the opening section of the workshop on Wednesday on behalf of the minister of agriculture Dr. Florence Chenoweth, the assistant minister for planning and development at the MoA, Ousman Tall said the workshop was key to agricultural development in the country.
“The issue of integrated research for development for agriculture is important and needs to be taken seriously,” he noted.
He said that producing rice and other crops in an integrated manner was important in enhancing food security and will require extensive research by stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
According to him the workshop would help greatly in achieving the goal of his ministry to increase food production.
He asked the participants to take the training serious in order to stimulate the production of local crops.
Addressing concerns from the Workshop participants, Minister Tall said that though Liberia’s has competing demand for its reconstruction drive, the government still prioritizes agriculture.
“Investment in the agriculture sector is improved over the years with seven percent funding according to studies from the World Bank,” he disclosed.
However, minister Tall disclosure clearly shows that most of the funding to support agriculture in the country comes from external sources.
The allotment for agriculture in the national budget stands at 2.4 percent far below the Maputo declaration on food security which mandate African leaders to allot ten percent in its national budget for agriculture.
This the Minister clarified that ten percent allotment in the national budget for agriculture is a burden for the country considering government’s numerous obligations. At the moment,
he said what is critical, “is how to ensure that funding meant for the sector reaches poor farmers to eradicate poverty from their lives.
Speaking earlier, the national coordinator of WAAPP-Liberia, Cyrus Saygbe said that the WAAPP Project in Liberia is being implemented by eight NGOs in 8 of the fifteen counties of Liberia.
He said that the program is a regional program carried out in 13 West African countries.
Mr. Saygbe stated that the participants of the workshop are champions of the innovative platform that will promote WAAPP’s activities in the country.
Meanwhile, in his presentation, the workshop facilitator, Dr. Fatunbi A. Oluwale stated that there are many challenges facing Africa’s agriculture sector and will require research for improvement.
He named the limited marketing, mechanization, environmental degradation and other factors that are needed to be address to experience growth in the sector.
“We need to embark on a thorough research to find a solution to Africa’s food security,” he noted.
Dr. Fatunbi who is the program officer for Sub Saharan Africa Challenge Program says that the development of agriculture in Africa does not depend on Policy makers as perceived by some.
He said accept agricultural stakeholders recognized the problems confronting agriculture in Africa much will not done.
“African must grow what they eat and don not continue to import poverty through depending on countries in Europe and Asia for food. We are to find a way for agriculture research not to create problem of food insecurity. This also require putting in to place a good frame work on how to utilize agricultural fund needed to support agriculture,” he mentioned.