In an effort to strengthen the agriculture sector, the Government of Liberia and Afriland Bank Liberia Limited have signed a Cash Collateral Guarantee Agreement worth US$700,000 to enhance rice production, processing and distribution in the country.
The move by the Government is intended to ensure that Liberians enjoy some level of food security for better livelihood.
According to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) official Facebook page on Friday, the agreement has a timeframe of three years with an interest rate of seven percent that is strategically aimed at Government providing cash collateral to Afriland Bank to be lent to local rice producers, processors and distributors.
The statement noted that the National Rice Federation, a conglomeration of local farmers, will get involved and increase the value chain of rice production and distribution on the Liberian market.
The Government of Liberia was represented by the Minister of Finance, Samuel Tweah, and the Minister of Agriculture, Madam Jennie Cooper, during the signing ceremony held at the Ministry of Agriculture on March 26.
In remarks, Minister Tweah indicated that the agreement is in line with President Weah’s medium term goal of ensuring food security in Liberia.
The Liberian Finance Minister termed the signing of the Agreement as a “great day,” despite the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, adding that it is the desire of the President to see Liberia feed itself.
“This signals a new beginning, and the President is thinking that we as a country shouldn’t be importing rice in the next four years,” the Finance Minister emphasized.
He disclosed that the agreement is the first public-private engagement with the agriculture sector and will set the basis for more direct fiscal interventions in the sector.
The Finance boss lauded the National Legislature for making the significant decision, including supporting the effort to put the country on the path of food security, noting that the act is a transformative step in moving the country forward.
Tweah stated that as part of President Weah’s mandate to stimulate growth in the agriculture sector, anyone supplying food to government entity will now have first priority in terms of payments.
For her part, Agriculture Minister Cooper commended Minister Tweah for his “wisdom and commitment” in initiating the process for budgetary support for the project and also the Legislature for its approval.
She encouraged Liberians to return to the soil and described the cash collateral agreement as the first step in Liberians being able to feed themselves as a people.
Under the tripartite cash collateral agreement, in order to ensure accountability and transparency, as well as to ensure repayment of the loans, the MFDP will centralize all rice payments under the national budget and will ensure timely payments to rice processors through their designated accounts at the Afriland Bank.
Also, the statement from MFDP noted that personnel from MFDP, MoA, and Afriland Bank will effectively monitor and supervise the implementation of the exercise.