About 10,000 cocoa smallholder producers in Liberia will benefit from a new $47.6 million project that aims to improve their food and nutrition security and raise their incomes by modernizing cocoa farming, increasing production and developing markets.
The financing agreement for the Tree Crops Extension Project II (TCEP II) was signed by correspondence by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD and Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., Minister of Finance and Development Planning of the Republic of Liberia.
Project financing includes a $11.9 million loan and $11.9 million grant from IFAD. The project will be cofinanced by the private sector ($3.4 million), the Government of Liberia ($2.5 million) and the beneficiaries themselves ($1.8 million). IFAD is working to fill the financing gap of $16.2 million with climate financing and additional co-financing for rural roads in the project area.
“TCEPII will focus on enabling poor rural women and men to overcome poverty,” said Lisandro Martin, Director of IFAD’s West and Central Africa Division. “It will promote economic empowerment that provides rural women with equal opportunities to participate in – and benefit from – profitable economic activities in the cocoa value chain.”
Agriculture is the primary livelihood source for more than 60 per cent of Liberia’s population. Traditionally, tree crops including cocoa, rubber and timber have been one of the country’s largest sources of employment, as well as an integral part of its social fabric. But during the country’s civil wars, the tree crop sector was devastated and many farmers were displaced. Abandoned farms and plantations degenerated into forests and necessary infrastructure for tree crop farming was damaged or destroyed. Market linkages vanished while exports dropped to near zero.
TCEPII will try to reverse this situation by investing in the revitalization or replanting of abandoned plantations. Implemented in Lofa County, it will increase quantity and quality of cocoa sold by smallholders and will improve post-harvest handling and quality. Crop diversity will also be promoted through intercropping which can improve food and nutrition security, shade management and income generation. Specific measures will be put in place to include women and youth and promote their access to benefits of the project such as training and financial services.
The project will strengthen and climate-proof rural infrastructure through the rehabilitation and maintenance of roads and the construction of humidity-controlled warehouses to store cocoa beans during the wet season when roads are not passable. It will also build the capacity of the cooperatives to deliver better services to their members.
The new project will scale up the recently completed Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Support Project and complement the Tree Crops Extension Project I, both projects supported by IFAD. It will enhance the delivery of quality services to cocoa farmers and guarantee sustainability through improved extension services and greater access to inputs and markets.
Since 1981, IFAD has financed seven rural development programmes and projects in Liberia at a total cost of $164.9 million, with an IFAD investment of $101.9 million. These projects and programmes have directly benefited 220,800 rural households.