Monrovia – The Deputy Resident Representative for Programme at UNDP is calling for a sustainable and viable seed production programme to increase agricultural productivity and improve the livelihoods of rural smallholder farmers.
Louis Kuukpen acknowledged the role of small holder farmers emphasizing that when local agriculture MSMEs and farmers are empowered, they can manage resources sustainably and contribute significantly to addressing rice supply in Liberia and the unique role of smallholders in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by their contribution to inclusive growth and employment generation.
Mr. Kuukpen made the remarks at the dedication of a seed and rice processing facility and launch of the Feed Liberia Campaign by the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP) on Thursday 13, October 2022.
He recognized CHAP for the great effort in successfully utilizing the UNDP grant for producing and harvesting the rice and seeds which they are now supplying to farmers and challenged them to ensure that this effort will continue to be upscaled to ensure regular production and supply of good quality rice seeds to farmers in the nearby and adjacent communities.
The whole idea of supporting small holder farmers is primarily against the background that poor quality agro inputs with low viability rate serves as hindrance to growth in the agriculture sector.
Kuukpen also applauded the effort of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and Cultv8 Nation US, for their support toward the seed and rice processing facility noting that the availability of this processing facilitycan play a major role in motivating local rice production, thereby reducing hunger and poverty, and promoting stability in a post-conflict country like Liberia.
He committed the UNDP to working with CHAP, MOA, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) and other partners in supporting grassroot local development initiatives that can deliver transformative and lasting results, which can contribute to feeding the nation and reducing poverty.
“UNDP stands ready to enhance partnership with the government and other development partners in supporting the agriculture sector based on our understanding of the growth potential of the sector as well as its role in supporting income and livelihoods for the majority of the population”, said the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative.
CHAP is one of eight (8) local agricultural organizations that received grant finance through UNDP Livelihood & Employment Creation project, implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MOCI) to support rice production and rural income generation in 2021.
Through the MOA, UNDP donated 26 power tillers, 15 motorbikes and 571 bags of 25kg Nerica seed rice to support smallholder agriculture production. Additionally, more than US$200,000 was delivered in grants to community-based organizations to support farming activities while another $200,000 was paid to agriculture based MSMEs to help them scale their businesses.
With UNDP support, CHAP has upscaled its production of rice seeds through a commercialized scheme where the organization will continue to produce and sell good quality lowland seed rice to farmers at affordable rate. This scheme which the Executive Director Robert Bimba has described as a “Game Changer”, is enhancing access to seed input for nearby farmers and boosting agriculture production.
Reverend Bimba says his organization if empowered with more tools, and equipment, plans to set up hubs and out grower schemes across the country to support the domestic production of the “I Love Liberian Rice” which he emphasized is the bedrock of Liberia’s economic transformation.
The CHAP Executive Director decried the importation of huge quantities of rice from other countries stressing that the government needs to prioritize and invest in local agriculture production. “We are too blessed to be hungry. There’s a need to get our priorities right to ensure that we stop exporting our wealth and importing poverty” Bimba noted.
The ceremony was graced by scores of farmers, civil society and local government officials, Mr. Mohammed Kamara-President of the Liberia Rice Federation, the President of Cultiv8 Nation USA and the processing facility was officially dedicated by Senator Saah Joseph of Montserrado County and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative for Programme.
Acknowledge the unique role of smallholders in addressing the SDGs by their contribution to inclusive growth and employment generation.