LIBERIA – The World Bank has approved US$10.5 million funding to support Liberia’s Ministry of Agriculture COVID-19 Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihood plan.

The funding is drawn from the Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC) within the World Bank’s funded Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P) in Liberia which kicked off in 2019.

STAR-P is directed and supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and aims to increase agricultural productivity and commercialization of smallholder farmers for selected value chains in selected counties of the country.

According to a report by Front Page Africa, Liberia’s COVID-19 Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihood Plan aims to mitigate Coronavirus threats and impacts on Liberia’s food security and livelihood; and targets vulnerable low income families and local farmers.

The plan targets eight components that will be implemented over a three-month period.

They include support to agricultural productive infrastructure through the construction of irrigation infrastructure, rehabilitation of tertiary roads that connect farmers to markets, and other forms of rural infrastructure; support to input delivery networks intended to enhance support to agribusinesses from wholesalers to distributors and agro vets by assisting them working capital.

Another aspect will deal with support to organized distribution of seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals to farmers in places where input markets are likely to face severe impacts.

The Other components aims to spear-head the construction of warehouses for agricultural commodities and following completion of these infrastructures, they will be offered to the private sector for management services; support assets building for small-scale food processor including milling, drying and packaging of maize, cassava, fishery products and rice.

Still among the components to be implemented over a three-month period include support the upgrading of sanitary services through supply of water and sanitation services to agro allied industries; support block grants for communal infrastructure such as boreholes, micro-power generation, drainage channels among others; support mechanized farming and the provision of grants to farmers.

The grant component will ensure support to on-farm irrigation equipment, procurement of equipment for poultry production, innovative solutions for small-scale preservation of food and biogas equipment for green management of agricultural waste, etc.

At the end of the project’s implementation, 100,000 metric tons of staple foods is expected to be produced that will drop the country’s food import reliance by 15 percent and have a strategic food reserves for the first time in Liberia.

An estimated 100 small and growing processing businesses will be built, and 50 cooperatives and farming communities empowered, while about 5,000 jobs will be created and another 30,000 supported in agriculture and agro-allied industries.