MONROVIA – July 12, 2013
Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Africa Rice Center (Africa Rice) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) sign Letters of Agreement for the implementation of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP).
An agreement valued at over 2.2 Million U.S. Dollars has been signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Africa Rice Center (Africa Rice) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Africa Rice will receive USD 1,540,112.00 to steer the rice aspect of the WAAPP Project, while IITA will get USD 751,133.13 for the Cassava breeding component. The funds are being drawn from the 14 million dollars provided by the World Bank for the implementation of the West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP) n Liberia. Both Africa Rice and IITA have been Implementing Partners of the Ministry of Agriculture for several years, and have demonstrated due diligence with several projects already being implemented.
In the agreement, Africa Rice will support activities that lead to the intensification and commercialization of locally grown rice, mostly through participatory methods and processes and in inclusive partnership and network to guide project implementation, monitoring and impact assessment. The process will also include the improvement of rice research, training and information discrimination, with respect to rice-based production systems and value chain development in Liberia by enhancing research and disseminate appropriate technologies. The passing on of skills and discipline to young scientists and trainees and the provision of technical expertise by experienced foreign scientists to the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) are all part of Africa Rice’s scope of assignment.
On the other hand, IITA will be responsible for the research planning and designing of the cassava strategy and work plan for CARI, the release of varietal and technology releases and transfers of cassava products consistent with international standards, the building of teams that will conduct research using appropriate methods, as well as passing on skills and discipline t young scientists in the area of cassava breeding.
Signing on behalf of Africa Rice Center at the Ministry’s main office on Somalia Drive on Friday, Dr. Inoussa Akintayo, the head of Rice Development Program expressed relief that a date to put pen to paper had finally come. He pointed out that it had taken so long and precious time was passing bye while the agreement lingered in the bureaucratic corners of the funders. The Africa Rice representative assured the Ministry of his organization’s commitment to the development of rice in Liberia, as demonstrated by the other Agriculture projects being implemented by Africa Rice in the country. He however called on the Ministry to be committed in their support to the activities being carried out at the country’s only Agriculture Research Institute in Bong County.
For his part, IITA’s Country Representative Dr. Amare Tegbaru who labeled6 the occasion as historic, reassured the Ministry of IITA’s willingness move forward in performing its duties and responsibilities, despite all the outstanding issues that delayed the signing of the agreement, which have now been resolved. According to him, Cassava being a stable food in Liberia, his organization was committed to proving all the technical and other forms of support spelled out in the agreement to assist the country increase cassava production, which will eventually ensure food security.
Dr. Florence A. Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture who signed on behalf the ministry noted that the two partners where no strangers to the MOA, and there should be no reason to question their potential and capacity to deliver. The seasoned Agriculture scientist flanked by her deputies for Administration, Planning and Technical Services pointed out that more was required from the partners since a lot more is expected from the ministry as tangible deliverables of the government in the area of Agriculture. Minister Chenoweth said the issue of poverty reduction in Liberia heavily depended on the deliverables of agreements of this kind.
The West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP) is a regional program funded by the World Bank, and currently being implemented in 13 West African countries. The Liberia’s project mainly focused on increasing productivity of rice and cassava, while adding value, as well as the provision of new technologies along the value chain.