Launch Of EU Liberia Agriculture Programme PARTNERS Project Monrovia

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Monrovia – Increasing agricultural production by smallholder farmers, boosting agricultural value chains to revitalize the agricultural economic sector, providing technical support and investment to Liberia’s emerging agro-enterprises, and increasing the utilization of nutritious food by vulnerable households; these are just some of the key objectives of a major new European Union funded project which focuses on stimulating the Agriculture Sector across seven counties of Liberia over the next five years.

Yesterday, Hon. Mogana S. Flomo, Jr. PhD, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Liberia and Ambassador Hélène Cavé, European Union Ambassador to Liberia jointly officiated at the launch of the EU-Liberia Agriculture Programme (EULAP) – Prosperous Agriculture Roadmap to Nutrition, Entrepreneurship and Reinforcing Sustainability Project. The project will commonly be known as the PARTNERS Project.

This project reflects the European Union’s on-going dedication and commitment towards sustainable development in Liberia. This project is funded by the Rural Development component of the EU – Liberia Agriculture Programme. For this project, the EU is providing funding of €12 million (approx. USD 14 million) with a further €1.3 million contributed by the implementing partners. This project aims to support farmers and businesses to realize the enormous potential of the Liberian agricultural sector with a view to contributing to the country’s social and economic development.

Close collaboration between the EU Delegation, the Government of Liberia and the implementing partners has driven the preparation and strategy development of this new EU-funded project.

The project will be implemented by a consortium led by Welthungerhilfe (WHH), with ZOA, Concern Worldwide and SPARK. The consortium will involve several local partners, and work in close collaboration with the Government of Liberia at a national and county level. The project has completed its inception phase and will run until January 2023.

During the launch, Ambassador Hélène Cavé said ‘this is a sign of how seriously the EU takes agriculture and food security in Liberia… Agriculture is considered to be a priority by the new Government in the pro-poor agenda sponsored by President Weah.’

Background:

This 5-year project aims to improve the productivity, resilience and sustainability of nutrition-sensitive agricultural practices at the level of smallholder farmers and vulnerable households in Liberia’s North-Western and South-Eastern coastal regions, specifically in Grand Kru, Sinoe, Rivercess, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties.

6,600 small-holder farming households, 50 agro-enterprises, and vulnerable households in 220 communities will be targeted in a holistic and integrated implementation strategy. The project aims to strengthen agricultural livelihoods and increase productivity in five strategic crop sectors by supporting all actors at each link in the value chain. The project also aims to increase the utilization of diversified nutritious food by vulnerable households and to improve public knowledge of nutrition. A key focus of the project is to stimulate agricultural value chains and to revitalize the agricultural economic sector by supporting private sector actors to grow their businesses, facilitate investment and promote an increasing demand for locally grown produce.

Despite having fertile soils, smallholder farmers in Liberia continue to have low yields. This is primarily due to lack of access to seeds and tools as well as ineffective agricultural methods. In addition, many Liberian farmers limit their production to a few crops and lack the knowledge and confidence to grow a greater variety of nutritious and commercially viable crops. A consequence of this is poor nutrition, low resilience, and inter-generational poverty. The 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey found that 50.9% of Liberians live below the poverty line and 39.1% experience food poverty.  Six out of Liberia’s 15 counties still have critical levels of chronic malnutrition; nearly 40% of children under age five suffer from stunting because of chronic undernourishment. In Liberia, large-scale commercial agriculture is focussed mainly on the cultivation of export commodities such as palm oil and rubber. The rest of the farming systems are small-scale, poorly resourced, and lack processing and marketing, meaning production cannot meet national demand for staple foods.

The PARTNERS Project tackles these hard realities by supporting productive value chains for key crops that have the potential to create businesses for farmers, increase their incomes, provide food during crisis times and bring wholesome food to the diet of the Liberian population. The project will strengthen the value chains of at least five strategic crops (presently defined as Legumes, Pineapple, Plantain, Cassava and Moringa); increase entrepreneurship, access to finance and to markets; and increase utilization of diversified nutritious food among smallholder farmers and target households. At the same time, the project seeks to improve the population’s knowledge and understanding on good nutrition.

The project and the consortium of implementing partners is expected to build new linkages and strengthen existing links with relevant stakeholders, especially those line ministries engaged in or coordinating the various activities of the project. Private sector entities, as well as local Civil Society Organizations, will be actively engaged and strengthened throughout the implementation of the project. This cooperation with many stakeholders is required in order to create a conducive environment for business development and to increase the sustainability of the activities conducted throughout the project.

This grant reaffirms the strong working relationship between the European Union and the Government and people of Liberia.  It will draw upon the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and Ministry of Public Works. The project’s success depends on this commitment to partnership as well as the expertise of the implementing partners and local partners and the entrepreneurial energy of Liberian agro-enterprises.

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