Smallholder farmers to benefit from US$16 million grant from World Bank
President George M. Weah has announced a funding of US$16 million grant from the World Bank under the Smallholder Transformation Agriculture Revitalization Project (STAR-P) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to support smallholder farmers in the country.
The President made the pronouncement on Friday, February 12, 2021, when he launched this year’s National Agriculture Fair at the Central Agriculture Research Institution (CARI), in Suakoko, Bong County. The fair is held under the theme, “Investing into Agriculture for Development and Prosperity”, and it features products from along the agriculture value chain.
President Weah has therefore charged the Minister of Agriculture, Jeanine Cooper to provide data on farmers in the rice, cocoa, palm oil, and rubber subsectors.
He added that he will later set up a technical committee that will include the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Commerce Ministry, State for Presidential Affairs, Justice Ministry, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Their task he said would be to work with the banks to ensure qualification, allocation, and disbursement of the stipulated funds.
“When I say we should eat what we grow, and grow what we eat, I mean it. We must utilize our soil,” said President Weah.
Additionally, President Weah said that his government is collaborating with the World Bank to ensure that farmers have access to low-interest rate lending from local banks.
“It is time for Liberians to take ownership of producing more food and as a result, we will begin to decrease our dependency on imported food,” he said.
He noted that the display of Liberia-made products at the National Agriculture Fair provided sufficient and reasonable conviction why the government must invest in farmers to collectively promote the agriculture sector and become potential exporters of Liberian products on the global market.
Liberia’s Agriculture Law, enacted in the 1970s, mandates the MOA to hold an annual National Agricultural Fair to showcase agriculture produce grown in the country. The fair was last organized in Tubmanburg, Bomi County in 2008.