MOA Launches US$30M Tree Crops

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… Project In Nimba

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has launched a US$30 million Tree Crop Extension Project in Nimba County, with emphasis in cocoa production.

According to a MoA release issued in the county on Wednesday, the project was launched in Sanniquillie City by authorities of the ministry and partners on January 16 at the climax of a three-day stakeholders’ workshop.

The project, which is sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has four components and will be implemented in eight districts in the county over the next six years, the release added.

The four components, according to the release, comprises the revitalization of cocoa plantations geared towards increasing the quantity and quality of cocoa sold and higher price received by smallholders.

Under this component, the project seeks to rehabilitate 8,000 hectares of cocoa plantations following value chain model; train 8,000 farmers in crop husbandry techniques, disease control, harvesting and post-harvesting using the Farmers Field School (FSS) approach.

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It will also seek to establish and operate a seed garden/station to guaranteed availability of improved planting materials to farmers, village nurseries and privately-owned nurseries, among others.

The second component will focus on rehabilitation and maintenance of the existing farm-to-market roads, and to improve access to markets and reduce transportation cost through the rehabilitation of 200km existing farm-to-market road, and establish a viable routine road maintenance program in project communities.

The third component looks at capacity-building for service provision, which aims at improving service to cocoa farmers for value chain development in order to build institutional capacity of eight farmers’ cooperatives.

Component four focuses on Project Management and Coordination.

This component is aimed at ensuring an effective and efficient strategic and operational planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation as well as knowledge management.

The release explained that 71.8 percent of the total amounts of the IFAD Loan for the implementation of the project go towards financing the revitalization of cocoa plantation, supply of improved planting materials, rehabilitation and maintenance of roads, strengthening cooperatives of cocoa farmers, and capacity building of value chain stakeholders.

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The release noted that 14.6 percent operating cost of the project is to finance climate resilience activities, training of technicians and farmers as well as the provision of solar dryer.

And 6.0 percent Government of Liberia in-kind contribution is to finance costs associated with office accommodation for project implementation and taxes associated with contracts and salaries of MoA staff involved in project implementation; while 3.1 percent is Private Sector Partners Contribution to finance cost associated with investment in the marketing chain, as well as working capital for cooperatives to buy cocoa.

The release also states that 4.4 percent Beneficiaries Contribution in terms of labour will be used for the revitalization and replanting of cocoa plantation, the management of village nurseries, as well as the construction of solar driers.

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The project is expected to reach a total of 11,000 beneficiaries, including 8,000 smallholder cocoa producers, who are members of Kuu groups and Farmers Field Schools; 2,400 farmers who will benefit from access to roads, input supply and market linkages and 600 farmers who will benefit as a result of job creation along the value chain.

The objective of the project is to improve incomes and climate change resilience of smallholder cocoa producers, particularly women-headed household, youth and Farmers-Based Organizations (FBOs), the release stated.

The project, according to the release, will work with eight cooperatives – Liberia Commodities Regulatory Authority (LACRA), Cooperative Development Agency (CDA); Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), Public Works Ministry, Farmers Based Organization and private sector partners to provide technical assistance to cocoa producers.

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