The European Union (EU) and the Liberian government have signed an agreement for the provision of a €5 million grant that will be used to develop the entire cocoa sector value chain.
In a statement, the EU said the agreement was signed in Monrovia on 7 December between Elma Sundland, the Chargé d’affaires of the EU Delegation to Liberia, and Isaac Gyamfi, the Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, which is the implementing partner for the project.
“Under the Liberia Cocoa Sector Improvement Programme (LICSIP), Solidaridad, with funding from the EU, and in close cooperation with the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture, will work with farmers and agro-businesses to improve the quality of Liberian cocoa and increase cocoa exports.
“The project targets the entire cocoa value chain, working with and training 5 000 cocoa farmers. Activities include the distribution of planting and other input materials, linking farmers and agro-dealers to international suppliers and buyers, supporting the Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory Authority (LACRA), as well as branding and marketing of Liberian cocoa products on the international market,” the EU said.
The LICSIP is aimed at creating a vibrant, competitive and profitable cocoa economy driven primarily by farmer organisations and supply chain companies, “within a robust national and institutional framework”.
Further, Solidaridad will work with the Liberian government in amending relevant cocoa sector policies and regulations to create a profitable cocoa farming economy.
Presently, the average cocoa yield in Liberia is very low due to reasons that include low-quality seeds and planting materials, aged and deteriorated farmlands, a poor, subsistence approach to farm management, and lack of post-harvest management skills.
The first phase of the cocoa revival project will begin on 15 January 2018 in the Bong, Nimba and Lofa counties. The Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Gbarpolu counties will be targeted in the second phase that is set to begin after 6 months.
The EU project is meant to support the Liberian government’s food security initiatives, focusing on the high potential of cocoa exports. Cocoa is one of the main products targeted for intensive farming under the Liberia Agriculture Transformation Agenda (LATA).