Monrovia, Liberia - The Government of Liberia and the International Bank for Agricultural Development (IFAD) through the World Bank, Thursday, November 21, 2019, signed a $23 million United States Dollars Financing Agreement to boost cocoa production in the country.
It is expected that as a result of the intervention, annual cocoa production is expected to increase to over 10,000 metric tons, at a value of $25 million United States dollars.
The country was one of the major producers and exporters of cocoa in West Africa, but its production declined due to 14 years of civil war.
Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Hon. Samuel D. Tweah Jr., represented the Government of Liberia, the IFAD was represented by Senior Officer for West and Central Africa Radu D. Miaryou while Khwima Nthara, World Bank Liberia Country Manager represented the Bank.
Honorable Samuel D. Tweah Jr., speaking at the ceremony said the financing will ensure easy access to the market for farmers in the country’s northern region of Nimba County.
Minister Tweah said farmers will also have easy access to medical facilities through the rehabilitation of rural roads. Roads, he added, is an important pillar under President George Weah’s administration’s development agenda known as the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
Minister Tweah further explained that over 70 percent of Liberians work and depends on agriculture, adding that if they are empowered with the right tools and skills, including giving them the extension, local food production will increase.
He believes Liberia can do better in cocoa production, because of the good weather the country has for growing the crop. The Minister then expressed the optimism that the project should impact more families and stakeholders in the cocoa sector.
He disclosed that many children were out of school due to lack of food, something he said needs attention. He expressed the need to grow food for the children, adding that he has no doubt that the project will be successful through the visibility of IFAD.
For his part, IFAD Senior Officer Radu D. Miaryou at the ceremony said the financing is for the Smallholder Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) in northern Liberia. An additional financing of US$9 million is intended to support the rehabilitation of rural roads under the Tree Crop Extension Project was also signed.
Miaryou revealed that strengthening the production of cocoa will also require replanting because the sector has promising expectations. He believes that employment in the sector could triple in the next 10 years.