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Sunday, February 25, 2024

MOA Achievements from 2018-2023

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The period in review saw growing interest in the agriculture sector – with more private sector involvement –in production, processing, aggregation and sales as well as increasing development partners’ confidence in the sector.

For the first time in Liberia, this sector saw the activation and operationalization of the Liberia Agriculture Commercialization Fund (LACF).

This is a project component under the World Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded and the ministry of Agriculture’s implemented Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) and the Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP) meant to provide matching grants to producers, processors, aggregators and farmers to expand their production.

Also, hundreds of smallholder farmers received machinery support – power tillers, rice and cassava processing machines among others to expand cultivation that is one of the key core missions of the MOA since 2018.

The period saw the creation of a National Cocoa Seed Garden in Nimba to help lessen the burden; if possible, prevent Liberian cocoa farmers from sourcing high yielding disease resistant cocoa seeds from other West African countries namely Ghana and La Cote D’Ivoire.

Many cooperatives in Nimba were empowered with solar dryers for processing; new warehouses for storages to prevent post-harvest loses and cocoa village nurseries across Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Lofa and River Gee.

Additionally, procurement of planting, harvesting and agro-processing machineries for the establishing of AGROPROCESSINGH HUBS in Bomi, Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties that will be managed by the private sector where farmers go proceed to and rent those machineries.

The machineries started arriving in November 2023. Since 1990, the MOA attracted the return of two international agricultural organizations – Africa Rice (formerly WARDA) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to establish formal offices in Liberia.

Since 1971, the MOA has initiated and kicked off the commencement of a nation-wide Agriculture Survey in collaboration with LISGIS.

This survey underway through a pilot and will formally start in either December 2024 or January 2024.

Liberia has reduced the import dependency on eggs through the opening and operationalization of an industrial egg production facility in Bomi.

Liberia Agriculture Commercialization Fund In 2018 was the signing and effectiveness of the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) funded jointly by the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was the creation of the Liberia Agricultural Commercialization Fund (LACF).

The LACF is also a component within newly effective Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP) – since 2022 – entirely funded through the World Bank. Both STAR-P and RETRAP are being executed by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).

The LACF is meant to ensure effective and efficient delivery of Component two (Enhancing Productivity and Competitiveness) of the STAR-P and Component two (Enhancing Competitiveness and Market Access through Productive Alliances) of the RETRAP for provide matching grants to agribusinesses with viable and profitable business plans.

An independent fund manager, competitively recruited, to manage the LACF is a key requirement under the Financing Agreements of the two projects – starting with STAR-P. In 2019, MOA launched a recruitment process to have a fund manager in place.

The processes reviewed and cleared by the World Bank saw Deloitte West Africa emerged as the Fund Manager.

As enshrined in the financing agreements, the fund manager’s roles – among others – are to conduct pre-screening, vetting and due diligence of grant applications through the Independent Investment Committee as well as submission of grantee`s Investment proposal/Memo to FAC [Funds Advisory Committee] following recommendation from the IIC [Independent Investment Committee].

The FAC is the highest decision-making body on this fund management in accordance with the governance structure of the LACF which states inter alias: The Fund operates under the Ministry of Agriculture’s Project Implementation Unit.

At the same time, the Fund will be distinct in that it will have its own identity, branding and administrative processes.

INVESTMENT SUBPROJECTS SUPPORTING PRODUCTIVE ALLIANCES: This subcomponent aims to enable smallholders to become more competitive producers, capable of meeting market demands, establishing sustainable linkages with buyers, and effectively integrating into the selected value chains, while adapting to climate change and reducing GHG emissions.

Under this component, the project will finance matching grants for FBOs, agribusinesses, processors, aggregators, and other participating partners to implement investment sub-projects.

The RETRAP matching grant resources will be handled through the Liberian Agriculture Commercialization Fund (LACF). The LACF, managed by an independent fund manager, is a special designated account under the Project. The Fund Advisory Committee will provide appropriate governance and oversight of the use of the LACF.

The investment subprojects supported through matching grants from the LACF will be based on subproject proposals prepared by eligible beneficiaries and approved based on independent screening and evaluation of their technical, socioeconomic, financial, and environmental viability.

All proposals selected for funding will focus on climate- smart agriculture, modernizing individual farm operations, enhancing productivity, and reducing losses (production and postharvest losses) to meet market demands, with the goal of solidifying partnerships within a value chain.

Proposals that empower women (women’s groups and agri-entrepreneurs) and incorporate climate mitigation and adaptation features such as intercropping and conservation agriculture (which will increase crop diversification); use of climate-resilient seeds and varieties; methods to retain soil nutrients and prevent soil erosion; improved water management; efficient pest and disease management; the use of alternative energy sources; recycling water and waste; and energy saving technologies) will receive priority.

The aim is that at least 75 percent of the subprojects are climate smart. Matching grants will be provided through three dedicated windows designed to support the different types of beneficiaries participating in a single investment subproject.

The matching grant will cover only part of the overall cost of implementing approved subprojects.

Each beneficiary group will be required to provide counterpart funding—in cash/kind (either their own funds or a commercial loan) or (for certain beneficiaries) in kind—to complement the matching grant.

The level of counterpart financing required will depend on the type of beneficiary and the amount of the investment to be undertaken; the ranges will be defined in detail and included in the Project Implementation Manual (PIM).

The matching grant windows are: (a) Window A, for organizations of smallholder farmers and other productive groups.

This window provides matching grants to organizations of smallholders or other productive populations to cofinance their activities in an investment subproject.

Women entrepreneurs, women-led producer organizations, and other productive groups, who will be encouraged to participate through a targeted information campaign.

In areas where smallholders and other productive populations are not organized into groups, the project will work with MoA, other government agencies, and NGOs active in the area to support the formation of producer and agro-based organizations.

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