To ensure Self-Sufficiency in Rice Production, Agric Minister Cooper craves Tangible Implementation Strategies

By Emmanuel Weedee-Conway

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Liberia’s Agriculture Minister, Madam Jeanine M. Cooper, has stressed the urgent need to ensure self-sufficiency and believes that can only be done when the country gravitates from trials and researches to real implementation strategies.

While it is true that some of these many projects, especially internationally supported projects are most often successful in trial states, Madam Cooper observed that, those projects in most cases are rarely successful in their real implementation stage.

Predicated upon this, the Agriculture Ministry boss pointed out the need that these trials be replicated to the real farmers to have good results out of the soil so as to enhance massive local food production, especially the country’s staple food, rice.

Minister Cooper made these remarks on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Improving Rice Production for Smallholders Project (LibRice) Project Joint Coordination Meeting held at the Ministry of Agriculture.

“We are looking to recapitalize on these strategies for food production and we want to make our dream of self-sufficiency in rice production be realized. We are looking to see the progress of the LibRice Project. But my suggestion is that these trials be replicated to the farmers to have good results. They should not just focus on trials and researches, but must implement,” said Madam Cooper.

“What I mean is that the JICA LiRice Project, unlike other past projects, should move or grow form research to implementation so that the result that we get as a nation and people will be meaningful and impactful. The reason we are saying this is because whenever those projects close, we don’t see the impact(s). And so at the level of the Ministry of Agriculture, we will provide the needed technical assistance we can to address those challenges because we want to steer our projects into impactful interventions,” she added.

Katsuyuki Yamamoto, Chief Advisor on the LibRice Project, explained that the project began in May of last year and since its establishment, several trials and surveys have been conducted, which when implemented, would promote local rice production.

“This is very important to Liberian. JICA has a similar scheme to improve production,” Mr. Yamamoto stated, noting that the project is working with over 2,000 farmers in Bong County.

Emmanuel D. Williams, LibRice Focal Point, who also outlined the significance of the project, asserted that the project is in line with Liberia’s rice development project that gears to expand rice production.

For his part, the Assistant Minister for Extension at the Ministry of Agriculture, Avin Wesseh lauded Minister Cooper for her oversight in the sector, especially with her reservation about the LibRice Project.

“We will take your observation in good faith and take all necessary corrective measures so as to improve the project. Owing to the importance of rice to Liberians, we will find solutions. We can guarantee you, Honorable Minister, that we will address our concern,” Assistant Minister Wesseh told the gathering.

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