MOA, Partners Launch Agriculture Extension and Advisory Services Policy and Central Agriculture Research Institute Strategic Plan
The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other implementing partners has officially launched the Agriculture Extension and Advisory Services (NAEAS) Policy and the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) Strategic Plan in the country.
Participants included the Minister of Agriculture, the Deputy Minister for the Department of Regional Development, Research & Extension, the Director General of CARI, the President of the University of Liberia, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Members of the National Legislature, Liberia Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (LIFAAS), the representative from the European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia, USAID, World Bank, representatives from the business centers and FAO Representative ad interim in Liberia, among others.
The NAEAS Policy focuses on interventions that address the challenges identified in the extension and advisory services. The priorities of the policy include building the capacity of extension workers, farmers, and other value chain actors in sustainable production, value addition, and value chain management, improving the institutional and organizational capacity for effective management of the extension and advisory services delivery system, and ensuring effective participation of the private sector in the delivery of agriculture and advisory services, among others.
The CARI Strategic Plan focuses on three result areas: 1) institutional capacity building; 2) strengthening relevant technologies and innovations; and 3) corporate communication and publicity to effectively disseminate technologies and innovations.
“Strong agricultural education and advisory services are critical to the growth of Liberia’s agricultural industry and the performance of its farmers,” said Dr. George Tee Forpoh, Deputy Minister for the Department of Regional Development, Research & Extension (DRDRE) on behalf of Hon. Jeanine M. Cooper, Minister of Agriculture. He stressed that “there is an urgent need to strengthen agricultural research, so that it can provide innovative and science-based solutions to local problems.”
“We are confident that the implementation of this policy and strategic plan will not only strengthen the linkages between research and extension stakeholders, but will also improve the lives of smallholder commercial farmers to information on farmers’ demand, and improve knowledge on sustainable agriculture practices and innovation,” said Bintia Stephen Tchicaya, FAO Representative ad interim to Liberia.
“Under the project, linkages between different organizations, which include MOA, CARI, universities, and LIFAAS, have been promoted,” said Dr. Geertrui Louwagie, Cooperation Officer for Rural Development, Food Security and Environment, EU Delegation to Liberia. She also stressed that “entities involved will not wait for another project in order to continue to further develop and strengthen the linkages.”
During the workshop, participants discussed the NAEAS Policy and CARI Strategic Plan, which were then officially launched by Hon. Jeanine M. Cooper, Minister of Agriculture of Liberia. The Policy and Strategic Plan will provide a foundation for a pluralistic, decentralized, demand-driven, market-oriented NAEAS system and the linkages of extension and research that effectively contribute to food and nutrition security in Liberia.
Furthermore, the policy and the strategic plan’s national operation plans (are there two plans) were discussed and validated. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Agriculture, MOA, and the University of Liberia (UL) was signed for the continued training of MOA staff and other interested and aspiring professionals joining the agricultural extension workforce. CARI and each of the five business centers supported under the project also signed MOUs. These agreements will ensure continuous engagement, linkages, and collaboration between the key institutions and actors.
The “Linking Extension and Research to Farmers for Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition” (2019-2023) project funded by the EU aims to strengthen the organizational and managerial capacity of both research and extension in Liberia for efficient extension service delivery, focusing on accountability and linkages between entities and farmers, policymakers, and other extension service providers, and to build and strengthen the professional relationships of agricultural extension and advisory services (AEAS) actors for effective promotion of agriculture production, productivity, and food security.
The project has made significant progress and achievements, which include supporting MOA and CARI to improve their organizational capacity by establishing linkages and providing logistics (including motorbikes) and communication equipment, establishing five business centers in four value chains (cassava, rice, vegetables, and cocoa), developing a new extension curriculum and training manuals, and conducting Training of Trainers (ToT) at the regional and national levels.