USAID Food and Enterprise Development (FED) program for Liberia, in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) launched the Liberia Agricultural Business Enabling Interagency Policy Group—a technical working group that is working to improve the business enabling environment of the country’s agricultural sector—at this year’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Conference at Monrovia City Hall.
This week, the Government of Liberia issued Executive Order #64, suspending import tariffs on all types of agriculture equipment, seeds and live animals for breeding. The new measure proves that policy dialogue between diverse stakeholders and government can lead to promising change.
The high-level group—proposed by USAID FED—is comprised of technical representatives from government line agencies and commissions (Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Investment Commission, and Governance Commission), the private sector, donors and other stakeholders involved in developing agriculture and agri-business in Liberia.
The Liberia Agricultural Business Enabling Interagency Policy Group will provide information and analysis to major decision makers in order to develop and strengthen meaningful policies, legislation, and donor programming that will improve the competitiveness of Liberia’s food crop sector. By doing so, Liberia seeks to ultimately reduce its reliance on imported food, particularly rice.
At present agro-input suppliers can pay up to 28% in taxes to import new and improved inputs and technology, such as fertilizer, pesticide, green houses, power tillers, and rice mills, a cost passed onto farmers and consumers. These items are crucial to upgrading the food crop sector value chains by reducing production costs, increasing efficiency, and improving yield and quality of local production.
“The Executive Branch of the Government of Liberia is in the best position to reform policy, but there is a need to lobby the different organs in the legislative branches,’ said Deputy Minister for Industry and Inspector General, Alphajour Ahmed Bah III.
“Liberian farmers are entrepreneurs with strong potential to go beyond subsistence level. Under the Feed the Future (FTF) initiative, the US government is helping to develop not just farmers but a better business climate,” said US Ambassador Malac in the opening ceremony of the conference.
The USAID FED Program for Liberia aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians through increased agricultural productivity and profitability in rice, cassava, vegetable and goat value chains. It is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.
The United States – as the largest donor and closest ally – is supporting the Liberian priorities to build sustainable local capacity, make a difference in people’s lives, and move towards a shared vision of self-sufficiency and prosperity. For more information please visit. www.usaid.gov. USAID FED is Africa’s largest project under President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence and increasing food security by working with public.