In apparent attempt to provide justifications for the 150 days deliverables set by individual ministries and agencies, some have indeed fallen short of their targets for various reasons while others have made marked progress, although with more to be accomplished far from just creating impressions.
One of the sectors that has continued to draw more attention prior to and during the ascendancy of the current Unity Party (UP) leadership is the agricultural sector, many decades regarded as the lifeblood of the nation.
Understandable why much priority has not been given the sector in more recent decades, largely linked to attending problems of the past debacle that contributed to farmers’ relaxation in massive production, although revisited by several local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), much cannot be said to have been accomplished in comparison to the pre-war years.
For example, whilst the pre-war years had witnessed the massive involvement of farmers into the production of various crops, including rice, cocoa, coffee, oil palm, kola nuts, pineapples, plantain, bananas and coconut, hardly have farmers seriously engage the cultivation of these crops as a direct result of not been extended credit facilities by banking institutions until recently when the Central Bank of Liberia had to undertake gigantic move in extending such facilities to various parts of the country.
For historical purpose, the mechanized sector had only watched a US$30 million project supported by the Libyan government in the upper Lofa region but could not accomplish their targets due to political and other reasons, with another undertaken by a Liberian entrepreneur that is hardly heard about in recent time.
Very gloomy as the picture may have been, yet with poor rural farmers bent on their usual subsistence farming dealing largely with rice production, they absolutely cannot be cheated this time around, with disclosure by Agriculture Minister Dr. Florence Chenoweth of having allocated the sum of US$16 million in fiscal 2012/13 budget that is expected to prioritize tree crops, particularly cocoa, be it Theobroma or F3 Amazon that have many farmers in Bong, Nimba and Lofa, evolving from the agricultural development projects (adps) that had seriously engaged them prior to the past debacle.
Quite partial, if not incorrect it may sound of not crediting the Ministry of Agriculture for having contemplated its efforts at other productions within the sector, with the rubber culture and oil palm attracting huge investments in the south-eastern and northwestern regions of the country, the mechanized factor now attached to what is likely to obtain through the budget ought to however be cautiously treated.
At least for the lowland farmers, even a power tiller or 165 tractor with implements would assist them increase production, since to make them become more sophisticated by providing other heavy-duty equipment involves cost that may not be easily borne.
The upland viewed as preoccupation by most farmers, environmental factors also limit the intensity of such program, amidst continuing threats posed by deforestation that may eventually unfold into desertification that may be hard for a nation such as Liberia to easily overcome at a time that alternative sources to reviving the national economy remain unending.
In short, whilst we hail dynamic steps gradually being put into place by the MOA and its partners, encouraged by the self-initiatives undertaken in buttressing the national efforts through the preparation of project proposals for funding by partners, the undercurrent remains the maintenance of sustainable patterns of such dynamic modes envisaged in the drive to achieving food security.