A conglomeration of Civil Society Organizations under the banner, National Civil Society Union of Liberia (NACSUL) has concluded a long day of tour at the Demonstration site of Africa-Rice in Bong County following allegations that the AfricaRice, an EU and world Fish project was engaged into bad labor practices with no Liberian in the employ of the institution.
Africa-Rice is implementing a 3.4 Million Investment package to produce high quality fish and rice in five of Liberia’s fifteen Counties to include Margibi, Gbarpolu, Grand Gedeh, River-Gee and Maryland Counties with a duration of three years.
Currently, AfricaRice is using the facilities of the Central Agriculture and Research Institute (CARI) in Bong County as its pilot site.
Recently, there were media reports alleging series of allegations against AfricaRice with accusations that expatriates are been paid huge amount of United States dollars Monthly as compare to research scientists from the Central Agriculture and Research Institute (CARI) seconded to the Project. NACSUL was also informed that the Central Agriculture and Research Institute ( CARE) was not in the know of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the Liberian Government represented by the Ministry of Agriculture as the management of CARI did not have a copy of the MOU.
It was also alleged that vehicles should have procured by AfricaRice for the implementation of the project but the institution is rather using two vehicles belonging to CARI in Bong County. NACSUL also learned that employees of Africa-Rice especially the expatriates should not be residing on the compound of CARI except the Country Director of AfricaRice.
But in a comprehensive report issued in Monrovia on Thursday, August 6, 2020, the National Civil Society Union of Liberia (NACSUL) said the one day facts finding visit at the institution’s project site in Bong County has provided a broad based insight and understanding of the implementation of the EU and World Fish Project in Liberia.
NACSUL President Amos B.S. Kanneh said his institution firstly established that there are four implementing partners on the EU project which include the Central Agriculture and Research Institute (CARI), Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), National Fishery and Aquaculture Authority (NaFaa) and AfricaRice. NACSUL said contrary to the mounting allegations against AfricaRice, there are representatives from each of the implementing partner on the Project who are mainly Liberians. The Civil Society Group also reported that there are only two Expatriates on the project who were recruited from the Headquarter of AfricaRice in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast.
On the allegation of the MOU and Vehicle, NACSUL also realized that the MOU between AfricaRice and the Liberian government through the Ministry was shared with NAFAA and CARI. He furthered that contrary to accusation that AfricaRice has two of CARI’s vehicles in its possession, only a vehicle which was purchased by AfricaRice from its previous project ended in June of 2020 is currently being used by the institution.
The facts finding visit also observed that there are two scientists including Mr. Robert Ziamah, Fishery Research scientist and Zipporah Page-Morwaker, Rice research scientist, both seconded to the Project by CARI. Mr. Ziamah and Mrs. Morwaker who took our team on a guided tour of the site afforded us the opportunity to physically evaluate the level of work being done by AfricaRice and even interacted with some of the contractors who expressed gratitude to the agricultural company for providing jobs for them which enable them to food on their tables for they and their families.
According to the NACSUL President, he was astonished to see such a fascinating agricultural project especially with Liberians themselves being fully involve in making the project a success.
Mr. Amos B.S Kanneh said the project which is implemented by AfricaRice under the watchful eyes of the Country Representative Dr. Inoussa Akintayo with funding from the European Union must be commendable by all Liberians because the production of high quality rice in huge quantity will alleviate the Country from its current state of dependency and poverty to a prosperous Nation.
Mr. Kanneh in his report narrated that he was also excited with the implementation of the EU and World fish Project especially when Liberians were not only gaining financial empowerment but are being trained to operate and repair the rice production machines which he said will go a long way in empowering local farmers as well as the ordinary Liberians.
According to him, those who are engage politicizing the project must immediately disengage as their action has the proclivity to scare away donors from investing in the agricultural sector of the Country.
Meanwhile the National Civil Society Union of Liberia (NACSUL) has observed that the Central Agriculture and Research Institute (CARI) that by law should be focused on conducting thorough research to rejuvenate the Country’s agriculture sector has become more political than technical since the inception of the CDC-government and called on President to pay serious attention in restructuring the institution by appointing technocrats to key positions at the research institute in Central Liberia.
The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) is a pan-African Center of Excellence for rice research, development and capacity building. It contributes to reducing poverty, achieving food and nutrition security and improving livelihoods of farmers and other rice value-chain actors in Africa by increasing the productivity and profitability of rice-based agri-food systems, while ensuring the sustainability of natural resources.
AfricaRice is one of 15 international agricultural research centers of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. It is also an intergovernmental association of African member countries.
It was established under the name “West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA)” by 11 African countries and officially began operating in 1971. Recognizing the strategic importance of rice in Africa and the effective geographic expansion of the organization, its Council of Ministers took a historic decision in 2009 to change the organization’s name to “Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)”.
Today AfricaRice’s membership comprises 28 African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda.