By Judoemue Kollie
Flashback: Farmers in Boinsen District, Bong County, conducting the harvest of 252 acres of upland rice.
President George M. Weah has reiterated his administration’s commitment to a vibrant agricultural sector to ensure food security and sustainable development. However, from the national budget, said commitment hardly convincing.
Delivering his 4th annual address to the 54th Legislature on Monday, January 25, 2021, at the Capitol, the President said because agriculture is an important component of Liberia’s national development agenda, there is a need that the country renews its focus on agriculture.
Since his ascendency, this is the third Annual Message in which the President has mentioned agriculture as a priority for his administration to drive the economy. However, the budgetary appropriation for the sector is the least, except for money that comes from external sources, such as loans or grants. For the fiscal year 2020/2021, only US$6,425,415 out of the US$530 million national budget is being allotted for agriculture.
In the 2019/2020 National Budget, US$6,208,754 was allotted for agriculture, amounting to 1.16 percent of the total budget that year.
Importantly, Liberia is yet to align to the ‘Malabo Declaration for Food and Nutrition Security’, which mandates every African Government to allot 10 percent of its national budget for agriculture. Stakeholders in the agricultural sector in Liberia have called on the Government to adhere to the mandate. However, the government has failed to consider increment for agriculture in the budget in line with the Malabo declaration for what officials described as ‘competing national priorities’.
“There is need for a renewed focus on agriculture, as Government is determined to ensure that Liberia has a vibrant agriculture sector to ensure food security and sustainable development,” President Weah stated as he delivered his fourth annual message on Monday, January 25.
Agriculture employs about 67% of Liberia’s workforce and provides valuable export opportunities. However, not many of the citizens, mainly the youth, have taken advantage of the sector for employment opportunities.
President Weah has called on his people to venture in to agriculture in order to improve the economy.
“Everyone must go back to the soil, in order to utilize agriculture as a vital tool for the revitalization of the economy. We have the land, we have the labor, and we have the climate. So let us go back to the soil to grow what we eat, and eat what we grow, so that we can reduce our dependence on food imports, create jobs, and increase food security,” the President said.
According to the Liberian President, the Ministry of Agriculture will be the focal point to lead and coordinate the drive that should transform the agricultural landscape in Liberia.
“This is a task that is already underway, and which will continue to receive the fullest support of this Government,” he added.
President Weah further said that agriculture activities will continue to receive his personal attention and fullest support of his government.
“The activities in the agricultural sector will continue to receive my personal attention and the fullest support of Government, going forward, so that Liberians will benefit from its full potential as an engine of development, economic growth, and poverty reduction,” he said.
Culled from Daily Observer.