Liberia Launches $8.8 Million Agro Project to Fight Climate Change -Bong County Farmers to Sigh Huge Relief

Climate change is taking a huge toll on all economic sectors globally. In Liberia, agriculture remains the hardest hit, as experts from the relevant government agencies have analyzed. To offset the impact of climate change on the agro sector, the Government of Liberia has received an Adaptation grant of US$8.8 million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to finance the Building Climate Resilience Project (BCRP). The project is designed to reach 25,000 smallholder farmers including 10,000 rice producers, 10,000 cocoa producers and 5,000 smallholder farmers from other enterprises of which at least 40 percent will be women and 40 percent young people. The goal of the BCRP is that livelihoods and climate change resilience of rural farming households in Bong County are improved.

The Ministry of Agriculture as the executing agency officially launched the landmark project at a local hotel on Thursday where Minister Jeanine Milly Cooper extolled the funders of the project, noting that the agriculture sector stands to benefit immensely from such climate resilience assistance.

“This is a pilot, just to open the door; and that door can bring lot of financing for the kinds of things that Liberia is already doing. We are looking at how we can improve access to finance. This Adaptation point project is the first one. But by 2022, you’re going to see a slew of projects on climate change,” Minister Cooper said, noting that the international community is obligated to assist Liberia fight the effects of climate change because “what we emit in terms of greenhouse gas is far low than most countries in the rest of the world”.

As head of the Government’s lead institution on climate change, Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh of the Environmental Protection Agency also spoke of the importance of the project in making the agriculture sector resilient in the face of climate change.

Climate change, Prof. Tarpeh noted, is making a major impact on all sectors of the economy, but acknowledged that the agriculture sector is the hardest hit.

“In our country, the agriculture sector is the one in which seventy percent of our people depend for survival. It means the government will have to focus very closely. It is in view of this that the EPA, along with other partners, conceived this project, targeting two major components – ‘pocket and stomach’. The cocoa will put money in your pocket; the rice will put money in your stomach. This intervention is intended to help our people with these two crops. The agriculture sector is our hope. We have to be able to not only put in the resources, but we have to put in place systems that will measure, report and verify results. For those of us that have been with this sector before, I can tell you that there was a time that government was borrowing money from the agriculture sector,” Prof Tarpeh stated, noting that organizations such as the Bong County Farmers’ Cooperative and others were in the forefront of national development before the advent of the civil war.

The objective of the Building Climate Resilience Project is to promote agriculture as a business for enhanced incomes and reduced rural poverty in Bong County. The project became effective for disbursement on 19 September 2019. The project’s current completion date is 30 September 2025 and closing date is 31 March 2026 in line with the implementation period of the Tree Crops Extension Project Phase Two.

The project will be implemented in eight districts in Bong County over a period of six years. The BCRP is an integral initiative to promote climate resilience in cocoa and rice value chains in Liberia and is expected to strengthen organizations and support increased production and productivity of rice and cocoa, by training the farmers on good agronomic practices, supporting their access to inputs, equipment and infrastructure, and linking them to markets.

The occasion of the BCRP launch witnessed the presence of Mr. Amath Pathe Sene of IFAD; Madam Regina Sokan Teah, Director General of the Cooperative Development Agency; Bong County Superintendent Madam Esther Walker, among others, who all hailed the landmark initiative.

Editor’s note: This report is compiled under the auspices of a United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) public awareness raising project on Liberia’s Nationally Determined Contributions to mitigate the effects of climate change.

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