Liberia: FAO Supports Youth Participation in Responsible Agriculture Investment Policy Dialogue

A one-day youth focused policy dialogue on Responsible Agriculture Investment organized by Agro-Tech Liberia with funding and technical support from FAO-Liberia has ended in Monrovia, Liberia. This policy dialogue wasplanned following baseline assessments carried out by Agro Tech Liberia indicating 55% of youth do not have access and arenot involved in decision-making processes at community/district and national levels in Liberia.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Forestry and Natural Resources Management Consultant, Florence Malorbah Dorley said the policy dialogue was intended to increase capacity, knowledge and participation of youths in agriculture sector policy dialogues, formulation and its implementation processes. 

She added that it is also expected that a youth centeredCommunique with key recommendations ranging from establishing a youth desk in the Ministry of Agriculture to coordinate and facilitate affairs of youths in agriculture, enhancing access to capacity building, farming inputs, loans, farm machineries and land among others. 

lrenceah Dorley, FAORepresentatives of youths brought together from all the fifteen counties, will present key advocacy demands to policy makers for endorsement of their suggestions to help further inform policy/ decision makers as to how the agriculture sector could be reshaped and made attractive to youths at the end of the policy dialogue.

Prominent among speakers at the policy dialogue session, was the Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon. Jim W. Tornonlah. He said he is greatly moved and thrilled by the presence of young people from all over the country to have a dialogue with policy makers on reshaping the agriculture sector to be youth focused. 

’Without food none of us could be here. I am a practical benefactor of this sector as I hailed from farming background and I am so honored to serve as Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in the Upper House of the Legislature”. Admonishing the young farmers at the dialogue, Senator Tornonlah urged young people to fore mostly have a change and positive perspective about agriculture, a vision and not until youths are being driven or compelled to engage in the sector. ‘’We have seen well educative people who end up to be very poor in country, because they could not take initiative beyond what they have acquired. However, if you are passionate aboutdoing farming as a business, the agriculture sector can transform lives as it is the largest employer in Liberia. You do not have to wait to be employed; rather you can be self-employed and even employ others. It is time you have a vision that you can be an employer, you can become a successful agriculturist and entrepreneur’’, the lawmaker added.  

Serving as the keynote speakers, a young farmer and agriculturist, CEO of Agro Lite – Kangoma M. Turay alluded to facts that Liberia is beautifully endowed with natural features that can adequately support youths’ involvement and expansion of agriculture activities. 

He added that the country has a youthful population (accounting for over 60% of its total population), but unfortunately his fellow youths are mostly engaged in seeking white-collar jobs. “Every day, complaints of lack of jobs from all over the country, when we as youths can create our own jobs through meaningfully engaging and participating in the agriculture sector’’.

The young farmer encouraged his counterparts to engage in farming and pleaded to policy makers to address challenges youths are faced with in the sector. In his conclusion, he advocated on behalf of youths in agriculture for the creation of adepartment / division within the Ministry of Agriculture to be charged with responsibilities to address, coordinate and facilitate challenges ranging from access to farming inputs, trainingprograms, loans, land, farm machineries and market amongst many others.  

Assistant Minister of Commercial Transactions, Department of Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Justices, Meo D. Beyan saidLiberia will never be able to feed itself if young people are not adequately catered for to be fully engaged in the agriculture sector; wherein they currently have little or no access to farming inputs; viable seeds, appropriate tools and farm machineries, access to land still remains a huge problem. He added that unless young people can confront the challenges of increasing venturing into producing food and meaningfully engaging in agriculture.

He pointed out that the country expenses over two hundred million United States dollars annually to input rice as the country’s staple food and other commodities to Liberia. ‘’SMART agriculture is everybody’s business, and urged youths and all policy makers to muster the courage to tackle the issues confronting agriculture. ‘’Otherwise, we will not be able to feed ourselves as a nation and people’’, the Assistant Minister concluded. 

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