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Agricultural Mechanization & Irrigation Programme

Agricultural Mechanization & Irrigation Programme

To top it up, in 2009, Liberia signed a Compact under the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP), an agriculture‐led economic growth initiative of the African Union/New Partnership for African Development (AU/NEPAD). CAADP has four main components or Pillars:  (i) Extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems; 

(ii) Improving rural infrastructures and trade‐related capacities for market access; 

(iii) Increasing food supply and reducing hunger; and 

(iv) Strengthening agricultural research, technology dissemination, and adoption (CAADP, 2009). 

Under its CAADP Compact, the Government of Liberia tasked itself to work towards an annual growth rate of 6% in the agricultural sector and allocate at least 10% of the national budget towards agriculture.  

The objective of the ECOWAS/CAADP process is to support implementation of Liberia‘s National Food Security and Nutrition Strategy (LNFSN) and the Food and Agriculture Policy and Strategy (FAPS). To achieve this, transforming smallholder agriculture from subsistence to an innovative, commercially-oriented, and modern agricultural sector is critical.  

The latter could be accomplished through (i) transforming key institutions in agriculture and livestock to promote agricultural growth; (ii) increasing productivity of crops and livestock; (iii) introducing land use polices for better utilization of high and medium potential lands; (iv) adoption of irrigation technologies for both crops and forage and other feeds for livestock; (v) improving market access for smallholder farmers through better supply chain management; and (vi) adding value to farm and livestock products before they reach local and international markets. 

However, there are challenges facing the agriculture sector in Liberia which if not tackled could impede the implementation of the above initiatives. They include: 

1. Weak land management and water control systems, 

2. Limited market access due to limited road networks and marketing infrastructure, 

3. Rudimentary production techniques, 

4. Poor food value chains:-lack of integration of production, processing, storage, and marketing channels, 

5. The lack of agriculture credit, and 

6. Low institutional capacity. 

One of the key solutions to the above challenges lies in deliberate action by the Government to invest in the modernization of agriculture at the small holder farm level and the creation of aninvestment environment conducive for the private sector investment in commercial and agribusiness. Except on plantations operated by foreign concessionaires and wealthy Liberians, farming techniques in Liberia are still at subsistence level. The "bush rotation" system of shifting cultivation is followed, in which the farmer clears up to two ha (5 acres) of wild forest or low bush each year, lightly cultivates it with crude hand tools, and plants rice or cassava as the rainy season begins. Palm oil and kernel, sweet potatoes, plantain, sugarcane, rice, cassava, and rubber are farmed in Liberia for sale in the domestic market and for export to countries abroad. Food crop yields are low, value chains are poorly developed and support services are extremely limited. Contributing factors include; lack of improved planting materials, limited input use, considerable postharvest losses and poor market access. Insecure land tenure is also a constraint in many areas.

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The Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) located at Suakoko, some 180 km north‐west of Monrovia was created in 1980 from the Central Agricultural Experiment Station (CARES) to conduct both adaptive and applied research in agriculture.Read more

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