A project named and style Prosperous Agriculture Roadmap to Nutrition, Entrepreneurship and Reinforcing Sustainability (PARTNERS PROJECT) was on Monday August 13, 2018 officially launched in Kakata Margibi County.
Speaking during the launching ceremony, the Country Director of Welt hunger Hilfe Liberia; John Van der Kamp said the decision to launch the program was triggered by the facts that in Liberia, large-scale commercial agriculture is focused mainly on the cultivation of export commodities such as palm oil and rubber indicating that the food security situation in Liberia needs an urgent attention and action.
He asserted that there is a need to spark productive value chains for key crops that have the potential to create business for farmers, increase their incomes, provide food even during times of crisis and improve the diet of the Liberian population.
“I know many of you are conversant with these hard facts and there is no need to over-emphasize them, but it is these facts that reinforce the dire need for increased investments by the Liberian government, traders, donors, farmers and other stakeholders for developing the domestic markets in the agricultural sector; these are facts and needs that have driven the preparation, strategy development and now implementation of the new EU-funded project” he added.
According to him, the PARTNERS PROJECT is a five-year initiative aims at improving the productivity and sustainability of nutrition-sensitive agriculture at the level of Small Holder Farmers.
He said this will be achieved through the implementation of five integrated project components which all aim at increasing the output of the agriculture sector through value chain development of selected crops combined with the business development of mainly existing but also new enterprises in seven Counties.
The Counties according to Director Kamp include Rivercess, Grand Kru, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Sinoe and Bomi respectively. He noted that with a funding of 12 million Euro from the European Commission and an additional 1.3 million Euro from the implementing partners in the consortium, the project is targeting 6,600 beneficiaries mainly Small Holder Farmers.
He stated that the PARTNERS project and its consortium of implementing partners are expected to build new or strengthen existing links with other stakeholders, especially those line ministries engaged in the coordination of the various projects.
He averred that private sector entities, as well as local Civil Society Organizations, will be actively engaged and strengthened throughout the implementation of the project. He furthered that Cooperation with stakeholders is required in order to create a conducive environment for business development and to increase the level of sustainability of the activities conducted throughout the project.
Mr. Kamp indicated that the project needs a constructive support from all stakeholders especially the various line ministries in order to be able to ensure that negative influences such as corruption and the lack of proper land rights which are hampering sustainable economic development and food security are jointly combated.
“Important to note is that the Project is building upon experiences gained in Liberia such as the USAID funded LADA project but also various other successful projects focusing on agricultural value chain development such as, for example, the WHH implemented Cocoa block farming project in Sierra Leone” he explained.
The Welt hunger Hilfe Liberia Country Director narrated that the project launched will enhance capacities of smallholder farmers and households to sustainably produce nutritious and marketable food and to ensure that smallholder farmers are more resilient to food and economic shocks and have improved livelihoods through participation in sustainable agricultural value-chains development.
He indicated that the program will strengthen the value chains of at least five strategic crops presently identified as (Cow Pea, Pineapple, Plantain, Cassava and Moringa) and increase entrepreneurship, access to finance and markets. He said the program also seeks to improve the knowledge and understanding of nutrition of the population, particularly mothers.
Mr. Kamp mentioned that it will further produce and pilot technological innovations in the five strategic value chains that, if proven successful, can be replicated and up-scaled by farmers, processors, businessmen and women an eventually future programs.
He applauded the EU, the National Authorizing Officers and the various Ministries for supporting developments in the agriculture sector in Liberia believing that the investment is directed to where it is most needed and will contribute to the improvement of sustainable food security in Liberia.
He then called on all stakeholders to join in the implementation of the PARTNERS program, a five-year journey in which he said they are looking forward towards jointly reaching their desired destination.
The project is being funded by the European Union and implemented by Concern World Wide, Spark, ZOA and Welt hunger Hilfe.