A World Bank and Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) Analytical Work on Welfare and Development in Liberia has revealed that agriculture is a major sector of the Liberian economy.
Presenting the report at a dissemination of the work at the World Bank Liberia office in Congo Town Tuesday, the bank’s senior Economist Alejandro de la Fuente said the sector is worth over one third or 38.8 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is employing more than 70 percent of the country’s population.
The objective of the survey is to explore the profile of farming household in Liberia and investigate the nexus between poverty reduction and agricultural productivity, market participation and crops diversification.
Fuente noted that though the survey has revealed that Liberia is still characterized by weak economic diversification and a dominant extractive sector, economic transformation of agricultural production is of profound importance given that the rural parts of Liberia are predominantly populated.
The report also captured that majority of households report agricultural work as their main livelihood, except those in Montserrado County, where male-headed households are more likely to have members seek employment outside of agriculture.
The WB, LISGIS Analytical Report further explained that land under-utilization is high across the country as the total household land area owned is 2.7 hectares, while planted areas equate to 1.4 hectares, reflecting a 50 percent utilization rate.
At the dissemination meeting, Fuente also quoted a portion of the report as saying only a few farming households have access to technology and chemical inputs and that male-headed households cultivate larger areas using more chemical inputs and have greater access to extension services.
“The survey also reveals that cassava and rice are the most common crops produced in Liberia and that cash crops, such as rubber and cocoa are grown by about one third of the farmers,” the World Bank Senior Economist told participants at the meeting.
He told the group that 69 percent of farming households practice intercropping, a widespread cropping system carried out by farmers across the country.
According to the report, only one third of the crops that are produced by households make it to the market, while one-fourth of farming households in the country sell more than half of their crops.
Fuente noted that increase in production can only be achieved through the expansion of land area and increase in the use of technology.