(Ministerial Complex, Monrovia, October 12, 2020): - Agriculture Minister, Jeanine Milly Cooper, has urged the Rome-based International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) to align its Liberia’s project interventions to fit into the Government of Liberia’s (GOL) national development strategy that seeks to impact farmers rather than outputs.
IFAD Liberia’s project portfolio, thus far, makes it the highest donor in the agriculture sector follow by the World Bank and African Development Bank. Liberia’s Minister of Agriculture is concurrently a member of IFAD’s Governing Council.
“Government of Liberia must be the one to set project priorities for the agriculture development rather than it being told to come on board to implement projects. Now, it is the time for us to decide what we want and not what we should be told to do”, Minister Cooper told the visiting IFAD’s Mission to Liberia on Monday.
The IFAD’s delegation head and Manager for Liberia and Niger, Jakob Tuborgh, said, “the Mission is here to find solutions in ensuring its funded projects are well implemented and prepared to work with the GOL on projects alignment in achieving IFAD and Government goals”.
She conveyed GOL’s observations of the IFAD’s funded projects -focused on cocoa -not aligning with the overall cocoa development strategy of Liberia, but only concentrated in a specific location leaving out other counties and relevant private sector actors.
IFAD directly supervises and funds two cocoa projects under the MOA -the Tree Crops Expansion Project (TCEP) in Nimba County and TCEP -II in Lofa County which are involved in the cocoa farms’ rehabilitation and farmers support through seedlings and training. However, the project designs, that led to the subsequent Financing Agreements ratified by the National Legislature, restrict the projects to only Lofa and Nimba counties.
The TCEP is a six-year project in eight districts in Nimba County which kicked off in 2017, while the TCEP-II started in 2019 and ends in 2024 with focus in six districts in Lofa County. Also, the IFAD finances the Rural Community Finance Project (RCFP) that seeks micro-credit financing for petty traders, smallholder farmers, food processors among others who demonstrate interest and willingness to expand their economic activities.
RCFP is a micro finance project jointly implemented by the Central Bank of Liberia and the MOA. It commenced in 2017 after its Financing Agreement was entered into with the GOL in 2016. The Project is located in eight counties Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Kru, Lofa, Nimba, River Gee, Rivercess and Sinoe.
IFAD co-finances the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) with the World Bank. STAR-P is a seven-year project under the MOA which kicked off in 2018 and ends in 2024.
The project aims to increase agricultural productivity and commercialization of smallholder farmers engaged in rice, vegetables and oil palm value chains in nine of Liberia’s fifteen counties namely Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland and Nimba.