Liberia’s Farmers Union Admonishes Legislature To Pass ‘Pro-Agriculture Bills’ into Law

Madam Josephine George Francis, President Farmers Union Network of Liberia speaking during a press conference at the Union’s headquarters in Fendall

Monrovia – The Farmers Union Network of Liberia has called on the Liberian Legislature to pass into law several bills submitted by President George Weah that are expected to impact the country’s agriculture sector.

Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh – 0023177769531 / 00231880881540 / [email protected]

The bills are, Seed Development and Certification Act,’ Liberia Plant Pesticide Regulatory Services Bureau Act, Liberia Fertilizer Regulatory Division Act, and an Act to Amend the Executive Law of Liberia to Create a National Food and Feed Quality and Safety Act of 2017.

During a press conference at the Farmers Union national headquarters in Fendell on Monday, April 15, the president of the Farmers Union Network, Josephine George Francis called on the Legislature to rectify a US$25 million loan agreement between Liberia and the World Bank.

When rectify, Mrs. Francis noted that the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) will increase productivity and promote commercialization by private sector investments.

“We want to remain thankful to the Executive Board of the World Bank for granting this loan to Liberia which will lift 17,500 farmers out of poverty. We urge the National Legislature to please pass these important instruments because they will help to fully realize the objectives of the pro-poor Agenda,” she said.

She noted that to achieve Pillar Two of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), which calls for the increase in agriculture production, there is a need to align the PAPD with the Maputo Declaration, Malabo Declaration, Liberia Agriculture Investment Plan-2 (LASIP-2), the SDGs goal two which aims to eradicate hunger by 2030 and the African Union’s target of ZERO Hunger in Africa by 2025.

The Maputo Declaration, which was adopted by the African Union (AU) in 2003, contains several important decisions regarding agriculture, but prominent among them is the commitment to the allocation of at least 10 percent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years.

At the same time, the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, adopted by the AU in 2014 is a set of new goals showing a more targeted approach to achieve the agricultural vision for the continent which is shared prosperity and improved livelihoods.

The Malabo Summit reconfirmed that agriculture should remain high on the development agenda of the continent, and is a critical policy initiative for African economic growth and poverty reduction.

According to the former Montserrado County District#1 Representative, the Farmers Union Network is working with its partners to make significant strides; adding that the Union has partnered with other institutions to develop policies for a stronger agriculture sector and diversified the Liberian economy.

She said the union is partnering with donor institutions including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to provide livelihood through food security for farmers and help to lift farmers out of poverty.

The Union’s partnership with FAO through the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) project, according to her has brought new dynamics to farmers in six forest counties.

Under the project, farmers have been taught to extract valuable products such as non-timber forest products and other products that can be sold for sustainable livelihood rather than cutting the forest which could lead to deforestation.

In addition, she revealed that the Union has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Jewish World Service to continue “our work with our farmers in two forest districts in Sinoe Counties.”

With support from the group ROPPA, the Farmers Union Network of Liberia’s annual monitoring of family farm observatory can now detect the counties that are facing challenges during the production season.

The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), she furthered, is supporting the Farmer Union to ensure that a policy action is derived for farmers’ voices to be heard to affect favorable changes in the agriculture sector and disclosed that a pending draft farm bill is expected to be submitted to the Liberian Legislature for passage into law.

About the Farmers Union Network of Liberia

The Union was established ten years ago and can boast of a membership of 54,000, including family members, cooperatives and federations throughout Liberia.

The Network has won several landmark positions at both regional and global levels, with Madam Francis being elected as First vice President of ROPPA, while at the World Rural Forum in Spain, she was elected as a Representative for Women of five continents on the coordination committee for the decade of family farming.