Liberia: Ministry of Agriculture, Partners Provide Grant for 22 Smallholders Farmers

Smallholder Farmer Groups and Agribusinesses in Lofa County

Foya, Lofa County- Mr. Alexander Shiakeh, the Value-Chain and Agribusiness Specialist of the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) at the Program Management Unit (PMU) of the Ministry of Agriculture has verified the matching grant utilization for at least twenty-two smallholder farmer groups and agribusinesses in the country.

The smallholder farmer groups and agribusinesses in Lofa County expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and its partners including the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for matching grants of over Two Million United States Dollars being disbursed to them.

Each beneficiary of the disbursement exercise received between USD 15,000.00 and USD 200,000.00 to increase agricultural productivity and commercialization.

The grantees, mainly comprising smallholder agricultural producers and processors expressed their appreciation to the Government of Liberia (GoL) and partners for the matching grants recently when the MoA Project Team toured six counties in various regions of Liberia to verify the utilization of the grants visited their farms and processing facilities.

The STAR-Project is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture Program Management Unit (MoA-PMU) with funding from the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The STAR-Project focuses on addressing critical market failures limiting the development of the rice, oil palm, and horticulture value chains. The project is reaching its objectives of increasing agricultural productivity and promoting smallholder commercialization by facilitating private sector investment in selected value chains and by fostering productive links between smallholder farmers and selected agribusiness firms through a business climate lens.

Making his statement of purpose for the tour, Mr. Shiakeh said his team is comprised of several other experts who are verifying matching grant utilization and providing project implementation support to grantees.

“Our team to verify the utilization of matching grants disburse to farmer groups and agribusinesses and engage in activities to support grantees for proper utilization include monitoring and evaluation specialist, agronomists, communication lead, agribusiness experts, and journalists,” said Mr. Shiakeh.

“The 15-day STAR-Project Staff Tour which began Monday, 28 November 2022, targets farms or production sites and processing facilities of STAR-P grantees in Margibi, Bomi, Bong, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh counties,” he added.

While in Margibi County, the STAR-P Team reached out to one of the 22 grantees, Agrogem Multipurpose Cooperative Society, a vegetable-production cooperative in Dolo Town, some 30mi (48km) East of Monrovia, the country’s capital, to ascertain how well they are utilizing the grant.

The head of Agrogem, Mr. Alphonso Quamele, thanks the Ministry of Agriculture and partners for the support in cash and kinds (farm inputs and tools) and promised to use the money and items as required.

“I just don’t know how to express how happy I am for the interventions of the Ministry of Agriculture and its partners. For now, we have received from STAR-P Twenty-One Thousand USD (USD 21,000.00), a truck, construction materials to build a warehouse, irrigation equipment, agro-chemicals, and some other farm tools and inputs. Indeed, I call this an answer to our prayer. We are truly grateful,” said Mr. Quamele.

One county with many women farmer groups or cooperatives that have benefited hugely from the STAR-P matching funds is Lofa. The Mayor River Women Initiative Cooperative, a group of women who produce rice and vegetables in Foya, is one of such women farmer groups.

Speaking with the MoA STAR-P Team in Foya, the head of the Mayor River Women Initiative Cooperative, Madam Tewa Lusu Blama Dunor, said their group is very thankful to the Government of Liberia and its international partners for the grant, equipment, and farm inputs given them to increase production of rice and vegetables.

“First of all, I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the Government of Liberia, the World Bank, and IFAD for the huge support. With the Seventy-One Thousand, Nine Hundred USD (USD 71,900.00) we received from the STAR-Project and other supplies including farm equipment, fertilizers, construction materials for warehouse and dam, and so on, we believe we will increase yields massive,” said Madam Dunor.