Suakoko, Bong County, Saturday, March 7, 2020) Agriculture Minister, Jeanine Milly Cooper, said priority is being placed on immediately restoring the country’s only agriculture research center, the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI), to its pre-war status by making it functional and helpful to farmers as she toured the center on Saturday.
CARI situated in the central Liberian town of Suakoko in Bong County about 180 km (111.8 miles) north of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, was a reliable and top of the line research center.
The center now lacks laboratories to enhance agricultural research and an irrigation system to nurture the seedling and planting demonstration plots even though it has several Liberian agro scientists trained in different fields of agriculture research from many institutions around the world.
The Minister was accompanied on the tour by Chris Jallah, Resident Coordinator of the Mano River Union’s office in Liberia; Inoussa Akintayo, Liberia’s Country Representative for Africa Rice; Paulette Findley, CARI’s Acting Director and a visiting Executive of the John A. Kufuor Foundation.
Minister Cooper said collaborative and coordinated partnership between the Government of Liberia and partners will be the focus of the Ministry to have CARI functional.
“There is an infrastructure already in place and also a blue print for CARI’s operation and development. We will see which aspects of CARI’s intended functionalities are present, but not operational and which aspects are operational, but not operating. We will take the blue print to our partners for support and financing. The planting season is coming and CARI is the only source our farmers have to go to for information”, she indicated.
Minister Cooper said President George Weah is very keen on ensuring the revamping of the country’s agriculture sector to ensure economic growth and CARI is an important institution in actualizing it.
Renamed CARI in August 1980 as a semi-autonomous agency and an institutional dependency of the Ministry of Agriculture, the center was established in the early 1950s as first Government Farm and later changed to Central Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) after the upgrading of its capacity.
Prior to the Liberia’s decade and a half civil war which started in 1989 and ended in 2003, the center, operated by a team of Liberian agro scientists and professionals, provided useful and scientific information to Liberian farmers on the planting and cultivation of varieties of crops including rice, cocoa, coffee, cassava, livestock research among others.