AGRICULTURE MINISTER REJECTS IMPORTED SNACKS SERVED HER SAYS: “LOCAL FOOD PROCESSORS MUST BE PATRONIZED”
(Ministerial Complex, Monrovia, October 15, 2021): – “We have our farmers producing plantains and processors are producing well-packaged plantain chips and why are you not buying from them, but serving me imported chips at a Government of Liberia’s event. We must help buy local chips and foods and they are all over the shelves in the supermarkets”
Those were the straightforward words Agriculture Minister, Jeanine M. Cooper, conveyed – most conveniently – to funders of the 2021 advanced program commemorating the World Food Day held at the Ministry of Agriculture’s conference room as she was being served a plate of mixed imported snacks.
Amazements which later marred with an applause whirled the conference room after her insistence.
World Food Day is globally celebrated by 150 United Nations member states on October 16. Since the day falls on Saturday, Liberia opted to observe it on Friday, October 15 with key bilateral and multilateral partners in the agriculture sector and MOA’s senior management team.
At the end of the program, Minister Cooper said, “We must support our agribusinesses to have more MADE IN LIBERIA food products on the markets and this is the direction and vision of His Excellency President George Manneh Weah. This is where we must go – nothing less”.
A high-level segment of World Leaders at the UN Food Systems Summit virtually convened on September 23, President Weah made an outstanding commitment to supporting agribusinesses and farmers among the four actions points His Excellency presented for the Republic of Liberia to the world body.
“My Government makes the following commitments; constituting a national plan for the transformation of our Food Systems and concrete actions towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda:…We will move to have small-holder farmers supported with machinery needed to transform their tasks; as well as support to agri-businesses in the food value chains with financial grants to expand food production and processing”, President Weah declared.
Since her ascendency as supremo of Liberia’s agricultural programs in January 2020, she continues to champion and actualize support for Liberian agribusinesses – a new business sector that is experiencing a surge with varieties of locally grown processed food products which are most times sold nationally; at some points, exported to Diaspora Liberians.
More than four dozen of Liberian agribusinesses benefitted from the Ministry of Agriculture’s secured grants from the World Bank in January 2021 at an elaborate program held at the Ministerial Complex.
Minister Cooper also activated the Liberian Agriculture Commercialization Fund (LACF)– which should have kicked off in 2019 – that seeks to provide financial grants to Liberian agribusinesses in the rice, oil palm and vegetable value chains with sustainable business development plans.
Liberian agribusinesses did not mince their words at the recently convened Liberia Dialogues on the UN Food Systems Summit under the behest of Minister Cooper as National Convener held from August to September.
They complained of not enough marketing of Liberian locally food products which is a major factor hindering their sales. “Liberian food products must be marketed over foreign food products”.
Ministry of Agriculture Liberia