GBARNGA, Bong – Agric Power Africa, a nongovernmental organization, has launched a five-year agriculture project to invest US$10 billion in Liberia.
APAL aims to use agriculture to create jobs, wealth, alleviate poverty and enhance food security within countries in Africa. Its project in Liberia targets Bong, Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba, Lofa, Bomi, and Grand Gedeh.
Aroms Emmanuel Aigbehi, the CEO of Agric Power Africa, said the goal of the project is to transform Liberia by creating wealth through agriculture, mobilizing smallholder farmers to go beyond subsistence farming, and turning Liberia into a self-sufficient country in agricultural production that can become a net exporter of food.
“The project will train and empower farmers to increase yields from existing farmland, facilitate loans to farmers through the agriculture cooperative bank, provide access to farm implements that farmers can rent to expand production,” Aigbehi said in his overview during the project launch.
He said the project will establish larger anchor farms in the targeted counties, train and empower farmers to increase their yields from existing farmland, and provide local farmers with a guaranteed market for their produces at good prices.
Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, who launched the project, encouraged Liberian farmers to take advantage of the project and invest more in farming as a means of lifting the country out of poverty and food importation.
She said Liberia has what it takes to develop, but it requires increased citizens’ interest to invest in the soil.
“Farmers are the engine of growth and development of any country. It is our hope that other counties can take advantage of this opportunity,” Howard-Taylor said.
On behalf of the government, the vice president thanked APAL for extending its project to Liberia, an initiative she said would help the government achieve its Pro-Poor Agenda, with regards to food security.
“We have a lot in our country. We need to stop looking outside. Only Liberians will build Liberia,” the vice president said. “We are such a blessed nation. You will never know. But we have become a county and country of beggars. This is an opportunity for you.”
Aigbehi said APAL will also train and build the capacity of farmers and agriculture students, mechanize the existing land by providing farmers with tools and implements that will step up production, and commercialize the agriculture products by working with other producers to transport produces as well as preserve the items for both the local and external markets.
Watchen Harris Bruce, the country director of APAL, said the project would be piloted in Fuamah and Salala Districts in Bong.
“We are starting in Bong County, and the first location will be in Fuamah, lower Bong, and Tumutu Vocational and Technical School in Salala. We will have training and demonstration sites,” Bruce said.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Syrenus Cephus said the Ministry of Agriculture remains resolute in working with APAL to benefit the farmers and the country.
“If you have the means and [are] given the opportunity and vision and the authority to exercise your right to produce food sufficient enough to feed yourselves, you will have no reason to be running here and there and government will have no reason to spend more than US$250 million on importation of rice,” Cephus said.
He called on farmers in the project counties to make maximum benefit of the opportunity to improve their farming for high yields that will propel them economically.