The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has launched agricultural matching grants worth US$22.38 million to financially empower smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in the sector.
The grant program, “the Liberia Agriculture Commercialization Fund (LACF)”, is a component of the Ministry’s Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P).
It was launched on Friday, September 10, 2021 at a virtual event in Monrovia, attended by Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, who is also the fund advisory chair, Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper and development and multilateral partners, as well as other local stakeholders.
The LACF seeks to increase agricultural productivity, commercialization, and competitiveness among smallholder farmers in the rice, oil palm, and horticulture value chains through a matching grant scheme. Speaking during the launch of the program, the Agriculture Minister challenged farmers and agribusiness owners to derive attractive proposals and submit the same to the Ministry to access the grants.
“We will need innovations if we are to develop the agricultural value chain. These grants are meant to empower all in the agricultural value chain, starting from production to waste disposal,” she explained.
She emphasized that the development of the sector cannot be left with the government alone. “You, the members of the private sector, must become innovative to come up with programs that will improve agriculture to make the country food secure,” she said during the meeting.
According to the MOA, Deloitte, an international financial firm, has been recruited through a competitive process to manage the fund for the remaining three-and-a-half years of the STAR-P Project.
Beneficiaries of the grant program include 38,000 smallholder farmers, of which 30 percent will be women and youth. Also among the beneficiaries are agribusinesses and business development enterprises with good business linkages to smallholder farmers in the rice, oil palm and horticulture value chains and other value chains that demonstrate commercial viability and integrate smallholder farmers in the intervention areas.
Meanwhile, Delliotte has announced the acceptance of proposals from potential farmers and agribusinesses that promote nutrition, gender equality, and climate-smart agriculture practices in Lofa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Sinoe, Margibi, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Gbarpolu counties.