KAKATA, Margibi County – The Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has commenced the distribution of farming inputs to farmers who are cultivating cassava, palm, rice, rubber and vegetables.
The beneficiaries, for what is the first phase of this activity, include about 10,000 farmers that have been registered under the Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP) and the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P), and are in possession of a valid national identification card that was processed under the MOA – National Identification Registry (NIR) arrangement.
The MOA and NIR, in September 2022, signed an MOU to register all the beneficiaries of both projects, legitimizing them for this form of support. The second phase is targeting about 20,000 farmers, making it a total of 30,000.
Counties that are covered under the current distribution, which began on May 11, 2023, include Bomi, Bong, Gbapolu, Grand Bassa Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh and Grand Kru. Others are Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba and Sinoe Counties, which are the project-specific counties.
The beneficiaries are receiving fertilizer, improved seed rice, cassava cuttings and vegetable seeds. Other items include wheelbarrows, hoes, shovels, cutlasses, pruning and tapping knives, approved chemicals for those involved with rubber planting, rain gears, and spraying cans, among other things. The MOA, through its World Bank Project Implementation Unit (PIU), is also giving pigs and chickens, including medicine and feeds to those who are raising them.
Addressing recipients in Kakata, Margibi County, MOA’s Deputy Minister for Research and Extension Dr George Forpoh called on the beneficiaries to make maximum use of the tools and other inputs so that they will increase their production.
“This is the government’s way of encouraging you to grow more food that will feed the nation, then we begin to export some for foreign markets. We also want you to grow more cash crops so that you can make use of the markets that are being created for you to do business and get more money. We do not want you to always make small gardens. It is now time for us to turn our farms into instruments that will generate real income for us and our children so that we can live better lives,” he said.
Minster Forpoh also cautioned those receiving the items against selling them to others. “These items are to be used by you and those working on your farms. They cannot be sold, as doing so may hinder others from receiving them on the next distribution. Also, when you get caught, you will never receive any other farming item from the government or any of the MOA partners,” he warned.
Bendu Benda, a recipient said the distribution was a turning point in her farming career. “I am extremely happy because I did not have the money to buy these items I am receiving, even though we needed them to carry out our farming work. I got injured only because I could not afford the protective gears that will keep me safe.
We did everything manually and with our bare hands, at huge risk, and barely got the desired results from the farm. But going forward, I now have what I need to stay safe while I work, and other things that will help me increase my production. I am grateful to the government, the ministry all the partners that help to make this happen.”
This intervention is funded by the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and is providing essential tools and planting materials that farmers usually struggle to get due to shortages or high cost associated.
The Star Project focuses on providing innovative agricultural financing institutional capacity building and strengthening the enabling environment for farmers, agribusinesses, state, and non-state actors, as well as enhancing productivity and competitiveness. RETRAP seeks to develop or enhance competitiveness and market access through productive alliances as well as strengthening agri-marketing and engaging in road infrastructure investments.
Both the STAR Project and RETRAP are being implemented in 13 of the 15 counties in Liberia with the combined target of 98,000 beneficiaries, including producers, processors, transporters and others in the cassava, oil palm, rice, rubber, piggery, poultry and vegetable value chains.