As Liberia and other neighboring states strive to improve food security, especially in revamping the agriculture sector, the Mano River Union has disclosed a working plan supported by the World Bank, Africa Rice Production and other sub-regional bodies to increase rice production.
The Head of Secretariat of the Mano River Union, Ambassador Medina Wesseh, said the MRU, as part of such efforts, seeks to re-introduce the school feeding program in Liberia.
The Mano River Union Secretariat is based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, with offices in Conakry, Guinea and Monrovia, Liberia.
Speaking recently on the work of the Secretariat, Ambassador Wesseh said although the program is functional in some MRU countries, there is a need for systematic work with Liberia’s Education, Health and Agriculture Ministries to ensure that the program is re-introduced in the country.
According to her, the re-introduction of the program would entail establishing a focal point for farmers, where they will grow rice and sell the commodity to the relevant agencies.
The Head of Secretariat said when the program is implemented, it will reap two major things: Children will grow up eating and loving their own country rice and it will cut down the importation of rice by Liberia.
“I held a discussion with the Country Representative of the World Food Program (WFP) in Sierra Leone, and we were joined by the Regional Representative. We are determined to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to do a brief study tour and see what and how Cote d’Ivoire is doing in terms of its rice production. Guinea has a similar program with WFP. Sierra Leone and Liberia are low on the ladder,” she noted.
Ambassador Wesseh indicated that after the study tour in Cote d’Ivoire, the Union will subsequently work with governments aimed at agreeing on a plan of action for implementation.
She disclosed that the African Development Bank (ADB) has a program for youth empowerment in the area of Animal House- Boundary, goats, sheep, and cows among others.
On the issue of road network, she added that there is a consortium that is looking at the MRU road network.
Since 2011, the MRU has a cost estimate of US$1.2 billion that the MRU is dedicated to securing to have the sub-region interconnected by a road network.
Currently, she said, the European Union has funded a 12 miles road from Sierra Leone to Guinea.
She said there is over US$700 Million worth of road project for Liberia.
She added that some of the road projects in the MRU region have been implemented while others are stalled for technical and other reasons.
She mentioned that the Freetown to Bo-Waterside road is a US$600 Million project funded by the EU.
“Traveling along that road used to take five hours but now it takes two hours to travel along it,” she added.
The Mano River Union (MRU) was established on 03 October 1973, following the signing of the Mano River declaration (Treaty) in Sierra Leone by the Heads of States of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The Union was subsequently joined by Guinea, on 25 October 1980, and later by Cote d’Ivoire on 15 May, 2008, bringing its membership to four.