Ministry of Agriculture approves grant applications worth over 2 million dollars for agribusiness promotion￼
The Funds Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Liberia Agriculture Commercialization Funds (LACF) has ended its first sitting with the approval of twenty-three grants for agribusinesses, including smallholder agricultural producers and processors. The event occurred at a local resort in Monrovia on Monday, August 22, 2022.
Beneficiaries that were approved will receive between US $15,000 and US $200,000 each as grants to augment their production capacity and cover the cost of other agric-related expenses.
Delivering the opening remark, Deputy Minister for Economic Management at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Hon. Augustus J. Flomo said the action of reviewing the applications and approving grants for agribusinesses was an essential piece of the country’s economic expansion program.
“I am particularly happy that we can hold this meeting today after all the efforts that have been employed to ensure we provide the best opportunities to our agriculture sector actors. We can now chart the course of structuring the needed support into an organized manner that allows for the sustained augmentation of production, improvement in livelihoods of farmers and processors, and eventually a more vibrant economy that can thrive on agriculture,”Augustus J. Flomo said
Grant applications evolve from the counties through a system supported by the newly recruited Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs) and get processed for screening and approval for presentation to the Fund Advisory Committee (FAC), the highest decision-making body for the fund management.
Minister Flomo also called on the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to initiate clear, transparent, and sustainable communication mechanisms to address the concerns of fraud and misinformation and guidance to attain the best outcome. PIU is managing both the Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP) and the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P). And the two projects are funded by the World Bank. The International Funds for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funds some components of the STAR-P.
Working with the MOA through the PIU, the Liberia Agriculture Commercialization Funds (LACF) ensures the effective and efficient delivery of matching grants to agribusinesses, including smallholder farmers and processors, with viable and profitable business plans. Additionally, smallholder farmers must demonstrate that they can match the grant through assets and cash. Smallholder farmers should also be involved with any of the projects’ value chains, including cassava, oil palm, rice, rubber, piggery, poultry, and vegetables or acceptable agricultural inputs.
LACF manages the matching grant component of the Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP) and the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P).
Also, in her statement, Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper said the provision of grants to the beneficiaries would bridge the gap between large-scale farmers, such as concessionaires. She added that the grants will also empower the beneficiaries to increase and be more competitive.
“Farmers in this category have always struggled with access to finance to enable them to expand their activities to desired levels. I know this because I was into cultivation and production long before becoming a minister. I am glad that we have gathered here as the body that will approve the first bash of funding support for deserving farmers to strengthen their already strained efforts to make the sector a viable one that will drive our country’s economy,”Minister Jeanine M. Cooper
The Funds Advisory Committee (FAC) is the highest decision-making body for the fund management. And it is chaired by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) through its Minister, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., while the Ministry of Agriculture, represented by Minister Jeanine M. Cooper, is the co-chair. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs (MOS), and the National Investment Commission are members of the committee. Others include the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Liberia Bankers’ Association, Liberia Business Association (LIBA), and Deloitte West Africa, which is the fund manager.
An Independent Investment Committee (IIC) has forwarded 38 Investment Memoranda to the Fund Advisory Committee (FAC) for approval. Most applications originate from Nimba, Lofa, Margibi, and Bomi Counties. The FAC approved 23 of the Investment Memoranda and instructed that the other investment memoranda be restructured to address system-specific, not enterprise-specific, challenges.