MONROVIA – As the confidence of the international community in the management of the economy by the government of Liberia swells, the country recorded yet another boost to the economy when the two financing agreement signed between the government and the World Bank will see USD50m going into two major projects in the country with the Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP) receiving USD30m and USD20m going into the Recovery of Economic Activity for Liberians Informal Employment Project (REALISE).
According to a press release from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the agreements seek to boost government’s efforts to increase domestic food production, reduce dependence on imports such as supporting the production of rice, which is Liberia main staple food and other food crops such as legumes and vegetables.
The Minister of Finance and Development Planning Mr. Samuel D. Tweah Jr. who spoke on behalf of the Government, thanked the World Bank for the level of support across several sectors of the economy focusing in the area of Agriculture, Climate Change, Health, roads connectivity, infrastructure development and education.
Minister Tweah, who described the international financial institution as the “biggest partner” to Liberia’s development agenda, said it has brought development in real time by responding to development needs through flexibility and good leadership under the regional Manager and country director.
“The bank is the biggest partner who has brought development in real time by responding to development needs through flexibility and good leadership from the regional Manager and country director’’ Minister Tweah said.
According to Minister Tweah, there are lots of things happening in the agriculture sectors but citizens need to see tangible results by redefining various programs, push logic, program logic for bank funding and have an impactful project.
He noted that the additional financing is meant to start up with other available resources to scale up rice production and redefine the dynamics. “However, this will also improve and transform, not just the agriculture sectors, the rice production in agriculture driven by Liberians farmers who say they have the expertise in growing rice”, the Minister said.
“In order to grow rice, we need to address the land issues, startup capital and ask the hard question why banks are hesitant to credit cash to farmers and the huge interest rate on borrowing loan’’ he added.
The tough talking Minister, whose good working relationship with Liberia’s international development partners had attracted much attention externally, asserted how the world bank, European Union, USAID, IFC and the government need to come together especially under the auspices of President George Manneh Weah to develop a deep risk facility for the agriculture sector in growing rice. Mr. Tweah noted that the Bank has spent valuable time in working with the government by challenging it (government) to make things better for the Liberian people.
For his part, Country Manager of World Bank Khwima Nthara explained that US$ 20 million additional financing to the REALISE project will be used to provide cash transfer to the poorest and most vulnerable households in Liberia in order to cushion the effect of the impact of the recent increase in the cost of food due to global shocks.
According to him the second additional financing is meant to help poor people have access to food by giving them cash transfers. He noted that as development partners, this is good, and the bank is happy to support the initiatives.
He maintained that the project will help boost the government’s efforts to increase domestic food production, reduce dependence on imports such as supporting the production of rice, which is Liberia main staple food and other food crops such as legumes and vegetables.
Nthara indicated that the fund will be used to incentivize commercial producers of rice for increased production, facilitate farmers’ access to agro-inputs to cultivate twenty four thousand hectares of rice and twelve thousand hectares of other crops including the purchase and distribution of climate resilient seed, fertilizers and pesticides by ensuring access to small-scales mechanization, post-harvest equipment and means of transport and the provision of requisite advisory services along the production chain.
The Minister of Youths and Sport, Mr. Zoegar Wilson lauded the bank for the support and said the project will increase the geographic scope to additional counties, and cover the number of beneficiaries of components one and two will increase.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by the World Bank Country team, Minister of youths and Sport, deputy and assistant ministers along with the Minister of Finance and Development Planning.
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