By Precious D. Freeman
The Ministry of Agriculture has recently launched the Liberia Agriculture Commercialization Fund (LACF) intended to increase agriculture productivity and commercialization of small holder farmers and other stakeholders along the value chains of rice, oil palm and Horticulture in Liberia.
During a virtual roundtable discussion about the Liberian Agribusinesses Matching Grants Program, Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper explained that in April, they made a milestone by signing a three-year Fund Management Agreement of the LACF after a year of competitive bidding processes of highly rated local and international institutions.
According to her, the LACF, a project component under the MOA’s Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P), aims to provide hundreds of Liberian farmers and agribusinesses with finance matching grants and business advisory services.
Minister Cooper added that Deloitte-Ghana will manage the LACF’s more than 10 million USD which the World Bank will provide from now up to 2024.
She explained further that as agreed in the contract, Deloitte will provide per calendar year quarter, investment support to minimum 54 farmers’ groups and 23 small and medium enterprises and technical assistance to minimum 11 cooperatives in rice and vegetable production and out-growers’ scheme in oil palm and others in the oil palm value chain.
She added that the finance grants will be based on businesses’ plans prepared by eligible beneficiaries, who would have undergone an independent screening and evaluation process to determine their technical, socioeconomic, financial and environmental viability.
Notwithstanding, she mentioned that the fund will be operated through a matching grant, and that applications are now open with forms which can be picked up at STAR-P office in Gardnerville, Old LPRC Road Ministry of Agriculture, Ministerial Complex, LACF office and at Airfield Shortcut, Sinkor.
According to a representative from the World Bank Adetunji Oredipe, the number of projects will be coming with some elements or grants that will be managed by LACF.
He added that presently they have two sources of funding under the LACF, which is the contribution from the World Bank and IFAD, adding that the World Bank will supervise the two.
Mr. Oredipe mentioned that their aim is to help change the farmers by moving them to the next levels in their operation, and to also see how farmers have been lifted from point A to B.
He maintained that they will create a group called Farmers Based Organization in which all farmers will come together and be divided according to the types of products they have.
He stated that the farmers will be divided into three types of windows which are: window one will be set aside for people working on vegetables and rice; window two will be strictly on oil-palm, while window three will be about transporters.
Meanwhile, he is urging the master of the project (Deloitte) to maintain the same goals, targets and mindset with its partners in order for the projects to become a fruitful one.
Agriculture Launches Commercialization Fund
By Precious D. Freeman