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PRESS RELEASE

New Agriculture Project to Revitalize Tree Crop Sector in 6 Counties in Liberia Launched

June 24, 2013

Farmers to Gain Access to Finance, Inputs, Markets and Improved Technologies To Boost Production


Monrovia, June 24, 2013 – The Liberian Government, World Bank and development partners today launched the US$23.1m Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Support Project (STCRSP). This project will increase access to finance, inputs, technologies and markets for smallholder tree crop farmers in Liberia, and to develop a long term development program for the tree crops sector in six counties (Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Grand Bassa, Montserrado and Margibi), the country’s main tree crop producing counties.

Under the financing agreement, the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank is lending US$15m out of the overall US$23.1m project cost, which was approved by the Bank’s Executive Board of Directors in June 2012. The Government of Liberia is contributing US$1.1m, while project beneficiaries are to provide US$6.2m. Other financing sources will contribute US$800,000. The project targets 4,900 tree crop smallholders’ farmers with total direct beneficiaries of 26,000 household members. Female-headed households representing 15 percent of beneficiaries are expected to benefit from this project which will be implemented over a period of four years.

"The World Bank is pleased to support the Government’s efforts in revitalizing the agriculture sector because its role in Liberia’s economic development  and poverty reduction is significant,” Ms. Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Country Manager for Liberia said. Ms. Dobraja added that, “this project will enable tree crop farmers access the needed assistance in enhancing their financial, technical and economic capacity in the sector.”

The project constitutes the learning phase of a longer term and larger scale tree crop development program and it will test different rehabilitation, replanting and new planting models, and associated implementation and financing mechanisms for revitalizing the tree crop sector. These models will be implemented in partnerships with concessionaires/large farms, specialized input suppliers, non-governmental organizations, farmers’ organizations (FOs) and participating financial institutions.

The Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Support Project will mainly focus on cocoa/coffee revitalization: rehabilitating, replanting and newly planting cocoa and coffee farms (7,500 ha) in three counties (Bong, Nimba and Grand Gedeh); technical and management advice to smallholders and their FOs; quality promotion and marketing enhancement; access of cocoa/coffee farmers and their FOs to adapted financial services; and development of small scale processing.  The project will also support the revitalization of smallholder rubber and oil palm in Grand Gedeh, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, Margibi and Bong.

This project is based on the promotion export oriented economic growth, through consolidating the role of the private sector, while also facilitating rural development, increasing rural incomes and reducing poverty,” Hon. Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture of Liberia, said. Commending the World Bank for shifting its focus on the revitalization of agriculture, Hon. Chenoweth added: “we are pleased that emphasis is being placed on the tree crop sector following years of conflict. We are confident that the continued assistance will pave the way for the revitalization of this sector and accelerating economic growth and development.

The STCRSP prioritizes institutional building and preparation of future large scale tree crop development program. This component will strengthen the technical services of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Cooperative Development Agency; elaboration of national strategies for farmers organizations’ development of master plans for the targeted tree crops; securing land use rights of targeted smallholders; support to adaptive tree crop research and preparation of long term tree crop program.

PRESS RELEASE NO:
2013/487/AFR