Liberia, Iceland Sign US$3.1M Grant Agreement to Support Fisheries Sector
MONROVIA – The governments of Liberia and Iceland on Friday, December 14, signed a US$3.1million Grant Agreement to support Liberia’s fisheries sector.
The financial support from Iceland, according to National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority Director General, Emma Metieh-Glasco, is significant and will boost Liberia’s fisheries sector.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Glasco said the project is a major achievement that will develop the country’s first standardized laboratory for testing fish and other cold food products for exports.
She explained that even though the country exports about 200 metric tons of fish annually, substantial loss had been incurred because the fish had to be routed through Ivory Coast and Ghana because Liberia does not have access to the European Union and the American markets.
She said the lack of a standardized testing laboratory for fish meant that the country could not certify fish harvested within its waters and neither could it be accredited to have direct access to those Western markets.
Other benefits she outlined that the sector will experience from the project will be improved processing and preservation using modern fish-oven technology, provision of microfinance opportunities to about 2,000 fishermen and fishmongers, as well as supporting water and sanitation projects in Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Grand Cape Mount Counties.
Meanwhile, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, who signed on behalf of the Government of Liberia, lauded the Government of Iceland for their support. The Finance Minister described Iceland’s support as “optimal model of transformation.”
Minister Tweah emphasized that the CDC-led government cannot withstand delays in rallying the needed support to the country’s development process which he said had been extraordinarily slow over the last 12 years.
The Finance Minister, during his remarks, also highlighted the vital role of the agricultural sector including fisheries in the government’s pro-poor agenda and added that the government of President George Weah seeks to transform the lives of ordinary Liberians.
With specific reference to the fisheries sector, Minister Tweah mentioned that the country boasts of a big fish reserve but lamented that it has unfortunately remained untapped.
He disclosed that the government is hugely interested in deepening bilateral partnerships with countries like Iceland with technical expertise in the sector that can help build capacity and mainstream the private sector in the development of the fisheries sector.
He, however, underscored the importance of the private sector in creating jobs and moving Liberians out of poverty.
Also, speaking on behalf of the four-man Icelandic delegation, the head of delegation, Dr. Pektur Skulason Wladorff, expressed delight that his country had found a way to help Liberia in executing its development agenda. He further expressed delight that the Grant Agreement was finalized in under a year.
Wladorff disclosed that the implementation of the project including the training of laboratory technicians will start in January of 2019.