The United Nations rural development arm is to provide a $24.9 million loan to Liberia to improve the West African country’s cocoa and coffee production in an effort to alleviate poverty among rural communities recovering from the effects of past conflicts.
The funds from the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will finance a programme dubbed the “tree crop revitalisation support project” in Liberia, where the development of agriculture is a national priority of the Government.
The project aims to increase the incomes of cocoa and coffee producers by raising the quantity of the produce by revitalizing 50 per cent of existing plantations and repairing 315 kilometres of rural road networks to improve access to market centres for more than 280,000 people.
It is also intended to strengthen extension services to smallholder farmer cooperatives by the agriculture ministry.
The funds will be disbursed to the most vulnerable farming households in Lofa county in northern Liberia, where the highest number of smallholder cocoa and coffee producers live. More than 15,000 smallholder cocoa and coffee farmers, half of them women, will benefit directly from the project.
The loan agreement was signed at IFAD’s headquarters in Rome by Mohamed Sheriff, the Liberian ambassador, and Kevin Cleaver, Associate Vice President of Programmes at IFAD.
The new project brings to five the number of programmes and projects financed by IFAD in Liberia with a total investment of $38.3 million, benefiting 30,000 households, according to the fund.
Source: All Africa.Com – 11 Jan 2012