Home Economy Shameful!…Boakai Slams Liberia’s Food Importation; Says Other Countries Are feeding Us

Shameful!…Boakai Slams Liberia’s Food Importation; Says Other Countries Are feeding Us

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By: Linda Gbartie

MONROVIA: President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has disclosed that agriculture is not going to be about politics but food production under his administration.

President Boakai also assured international partners and the Liberian people that before the end of his six-year administration, the story of agriculture or food production in Liberia will change for the better.

The Liberian leader made the pronouncement at the launch of the 2023 Global Hunger Index Report (GHI)

The 2023 Global Hunger Index Report (GHI) was launched on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 by Welt Hunger Hilfe (WHH) and Concern Worldwide (CHH) under the theme: “The Power of Youth in Shaping Food System in Liberia”, held at the Mamba Point Hotel in Monrovia.

The GHI is a peer-review annual report, jointly published by CHH and WHH.

It is designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels. It scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger.

In his keynote address at the launch of the 2023 GHI Report, President Boakai said that under his administration if agriculture doesn’t work in Liberia, he thinks it will never work.

President Boakai vowed that he is going to make sure that agriculture works for the better in the country.

According to him, the GHI statistics are not just alarming but doesn’t represent Liberia.

President Boakai highlighted that when he was at the Ministry of Agriculture back, then, as Minister, only 30% of rice was imported at the time but today, the country imports about 70% of rice which is unacceptable and is not going to work under his regime.

“We have water, land, soil and everything that is needed to produced food, but we cannot produce food.

President Boakai: “ Absantee farmers cannot be successful. If you want to be a farmer, be a farmer. We never imported poultries when I was Agriculture Minister. We had poultry and rice farms producing.”
Poultries are domesticated birds used for food. Varieties include chicken, turkey, goose, duck, rock Cornish hens, and game birds such as pheasants, squabs and guinea fowls. Also included are huge birds such as ostrich, emu and rhea (ratites).
So, we never brought chickens to this country. It is not even good to depend on bringing imported chicken from everywhere,” he added.

President Boakai emphasized that Liberians need to be serious about agriculture.

“You can wear three suits for a year and wash them, but you have to eat every day,” he pointed out.

Boakai: “Back then, all these varieties of rice in the country now, we wouldn’t have it. Today, we see countries that are so hard are the ones feeding us, it is a shame.

Why should you bring rice from India, China etc. when you have all the land, soil and water? So, for those of you who are working in the Ministry of Agriculture, you are in a serious problem, because you will have to work,” the Liberian leader said.

For production and extension in agriculture, President Boakai said, there is a structure at Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI), but there are no agronomists, soil scientists etc. President Boakai: So, how do they attend to farmers? They have to change the situation.

“The CARI that we have is to make our farmers and attract investors, but we get the wrong people in the wrong places. Every word is political, CARI is a research center. I have said that in this administration, we are going to make Booker Washington Institute a technical institute and we will even have to produce our agriculture technology machine.

Doing agriculture by using cutlasses time has passed. We have to make agriculture in a way that it will be appealing,” said President Boakai.

However, he said they are going to ensure that all community colleges teach agriculture.

Meanwhile, President Boakai believes that the agriculture sector should be the area that could employ most of the young people in Liberia.

He assured international partners and Liberians that they are going to establish a food processing center in Gbarnga, Bong County, for farmers to have the opportunity to process their produce.

“In Agriculture, you can’t do everything, you can’t grow and make; you do one thing and pass it to the others. If the tomato farmers can produce tomato and give it to somebody else to do the processing. This is why our food gets rotten in the market. You can’t produce cassava and sit down to sell it, if the cassava is not sold, you can’t go back to produce. Rice farmers in America do not grow rice and go sell it in the market, our problem here is that, we want to do everything. This is not the way. Liberia have the opportunity to produce food and we are going to produce, I can assure you that,” he emphasized.

Moreover, the Liberian President thanked partners who are willing to work with the government as they embark on empowering the agriculture sector.

He revealed that African Development Bank (AFDB) has just made available USD$16 million for agriculture development in Liberia.

He emphasized that Liberians can’t continue to have and be blessed with farm lands, water and everything and still depend on imported food.
“Everybody should be a farmer, agriculture is the way forward. We are not going to produce new airplanes or cars but we can feed ourselves. We have the opportunity to do it”.

On the launch of the GHI Report, President Boakai said, he is thankful to CHH and WHH for publishing the GHI 2023 Report.

He stressed that they are in the country and know the arrest agenda of his administration which first letter is agriculture.

He said government are going to involve the youth in agriculture programs and invest in them.

He stressed the need for sustainable agriculture, and that is the way Liberia is going to go by implementing agriculture programs.

“Agriculture is not going to be a phone and people sitting down in offices. We did it before and we can do it again. In Agriculture is not going to be politics but production. We are going to make sure that those in it work. At LPMC, we need to have marketing cooperatives.

What we need is production cooperatives. Farmers who are producing cocoa have to work together. Adding value is what we are going to do. We need to empower farmers and work together. We need to produce food to feed ourselves and feed those countries that are in need.

Malnutrition of our children is not supposing to happen and we can change the story around and I can assure you before the end of our six years, the story is going to change,” President Boakai asserted.

The GHI has put Liberia in 117th place, out of the 125 countries with a score of 32.2.

The score, according to the report, indicates that “Liberia has a level of hunger that is serious”.

The GHI report is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, provide a way to compare levels of hunger between countries and regions, and calls attention to those areas of the world where the need for additional efforts to eliminate hunger is greatest.

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