USAID Economic Policy Dialogue Holds Capacity Training for Liberia’s Cocoa Value Chain

MONROVIA — The Liberia Economic Policy Dialogue Activity has begun a four-day training workshop for key civil society organizations in Monrovia.

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the training which is led by the Accra base African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), seeks to augment technical skills of select local CSOs to help overcome binding constraints on the growth of Liberia’s cocoa value chain.

The local CSOs include the Center for Democratic Governance, Institute of Research and Democratic Development and the Center for Policy Action Research (CePAR).

Organizers say the objective of the workshop is to identity and learn about appropriate approaches to designing research, conducting field research, and analysis, as well as well as implementing strategies with the partner CSOs and other stakeholders.

Delivering the keynote address during the opening of the workshop in Monrovia Tuesday, Senator Jim W. Tornonlah, the chairman of the Senate’s committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said Liberia’s cocoa sector is key and could lift hundreds out of poverty when harnessed in acceptable ways.

“Clearly Liberia has challenges, food insecurity, mismanagement of the agriculture sector and you know nations that cannot feed themselves cannot develop easily” he said

Senator Tornolah believes the major stumbling block to the progress of the cocoa sector in Liberia is the acute lack of access to finance couple with plenty of regulations that are yet to be structured into law.

“In the 80s, the sector was bolstering but there are no more funding for small cocoa farmers to get loans”  warning “ the sector is struggling and will continue to struggle due to lack of finance”.

The Margibi County Senator meanwhile, disclosed that the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is contemplating on a lot including a proposed joint agriculture meeting to review policies in the sector and develop them into laws.

The Liberia Economic Policy Dialogue activity is a USAID funded four-year technical assistance, capacity development, and grants project with a focus on fostering self-reliance by spurring private sector-led economic expansion in Liberia.

This week’s training workshop under the project specifically targets gender mainstreaming, value chain, political economy and political analysis, communication audit and visibility strategy, as well as data collection approaches.  

Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory Authority (LACRA) Deputy Director General for Administration and Finance Roland K Mendscole in remarks at the opening of the training expressed frustration over “inadequate support” which he said is impeding expansion of the cocoa sector and rendering LACRA ineffective to monitor.

“Inadequate support to LACRA is impeding the sector and we are unable to execute regulatory governance thereby allowing people to engage into illicit cocoa trade across the country”

“Without regulatory framework we all will continue to be lingering in the sector,” he warned.

Mr. Mebdscole said that LACRA is grateful to the USADI for supporting such capacity extension initiative, but stressed that more funding is needed to strengthen small holder cocoa farmers who are willing to deliver economic prosperity.

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