FAO, Japan Sign Agreement to Improve Rice and Fish Cultivation

MONROVIA – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has signed a funding agreement with the Embassy of Japan in Liberia.

The Funding Agreement which is in the tone of USD$3,564,000  is geared towards the implementation of a three-year project Strengthening Capacities in the Fisheries and Rice Cultivation Sectors for Food Security and Nutrition Improvement.

  FAO will implement this project in partnership with the Government of Liberia through the National Fishery and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and Ministry of Agriculture.

The project is designed to address challenges of less marine fisheries production which is partly due to the fact that fisher forks, fishmongers and processors are not adequately capacitated and equipped to stay safe and healthy at sea and undue post-catch losses which remain unfulfilled in all nine coastal fishing counties.

 The growing threats to sustainably managing marine resources is among the top constraints faced by the fisheries sector. Hence, this project seeks, in the medium term to address these quadripartite challenges confronting fisheries, through a well-coordinated, stakeholder-driven approach. Strategically also, the project shall support improvement in local rice production, whilst promoting the integration of agri-aquaculture production in rice fields.

Having contributed to addressing these, the project is expected to impact the country by helping reduce poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, and livelihoods vulnerability among women and men of both young and middle ages. As an outcome, it will directly ensure that 3,000 fisher folks, rice farmers, fish-famers, and fishmongers and processors have resilient livelihoods and income, food and nutrition security amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Local communities in ten counties will be impacted, with value chain actors and producers empowered in a climate-smart and environmentally-friendly manner, through the four outputs which includes;

 Enhanced small-scale fisheries at the sea; Female fish processors livelihoods improved; Integrated agri-aquaculture promoted in rice fields; and Capacity developed to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. 

The project has two specific objectives and one overall project outcome which is to reduced poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, and livelihoods vulnerability among women and men of both young and middle-ages. 

Objective one is to strengthen the small-scale fisheries sector through the creation of employment, the diversification of income and the improvement of methods and safety of fisher folks, capacity of fishmongers and curtailing of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Objective two is promote an inimitable method of integrating rice and fish farming using climate-smart agricultural practices. In a COVID-ravaging era, the project will contribute to income diversification, resilience building, and sustainable livelihoods. The project seeks to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular to Goals 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 14.

Speaking at the According to the FAO Representative, Madam Mariatou Njie, said the project aims to achieve its objectives and outcome through four project outputs. The four outputs include: Enhanced small-scale fisheries in the sea, Female fish processors livelihoods improved, integrated agri-aquaculture promoted in rice fields and Capacity developed to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.   

In her explanation, output one will focus on enhancing the small-scale fisheries production, in three different angles. First, promoting the establishment of community-based fisheries management frameworks, including the replacement of existing fishing gear with more sustainable ones. Secondly, ensuring decent work for fishers on board, from the water to the landing sites. The output will, from one side, strengthen the safety of small-scale fishers in the sea, with the distribution of high-quality outboard engines and onboard safety equipment (life jackets, GPS, night-time lights, horns, buoys) in 100 boats from 9 different fishing communities, accompanied by sea safety trainings.

In his remarks, the Japanese Ambassador, H.E. HIMIENO Tsutomu emphasized the importance of output two that will enhance climate smart, sustainable and healthy fish processing infrastructure (including FTTs) will be built and renewal energy and durable fish processing equipment will be distributed for female fish processors groups in 10 fishing communities. A female-to-female knowledge exchange will be organized from the previous female beneficiaries to the new ones, as well as capacity development trainings to improve the efficiency, productivity and hygiene practices through Kaizen approach and in accordance with COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“The third output will promote integration of fish farming within rice fields in 10 localities (exploring synergies and complementarity with JICA Project). Fish juveniles and related equipment will be distributed to the various farmers along with technical aquaculture training. This output will pilot test the manufacture of Eco-fuel briquettes using rice production waste in the 10 localities to be used as fuel by female fish processors, distributing a briquettes machine and training 20 young technicians’’ the Japanese Ambassador  added.

In her response, the General Director of National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Hon. Emma Metieh-Glassco expressed profound appreciations for theintended capacity development to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.  “Two interagency workshops will be organized. Building on FCWC’s support to NaFAA’s MCS capacity, new IUU combat technologies (remote electronic monitoring, cameras) will be provided with the relevant training to the NaFAA fisheries officers involved. NaFAA hopes the vessel monitoring system with hybrid mobile-satellite devices for monitoring the small-scale fleet, linked with an anonymous ‘whistleblower’ system (essentially involving the artisanal sector in monitoring IUU activities at-sea) that will be introduced and relevant officers trained will strengthen their surveillance capacity” said Hon. Emma Metieh-Glassco.

The project will target above 10 counties in total (9 coastal and Bong). The Outputs 1, 2 and 4 will mainly target nine coastal countries while the Output 3 focuses on Bong County.

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