March 25, 2023

Gov’t of Liberia and EIB Sign US$4M Rice Value Chain Cooperation Agreement

The Liberian government and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed a US$4 million cooperation agreement for technical assistance services aimed at preparing a detailed feasibility study that will assess the potential and challenges of Liberia’s rice value chain in order to design and structure an investment program that could be financed next year.

At the signing ceremony held on Friday, May 27, 2022, at the EU’s office in Mamba Point-Monrovia, Deputy Minister for Budget at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning Tanneh G. Brunson and Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper signed on behalf of the Liberian government and Head of Division, Country Relations and Public Sector Sub-Saharan Africa of European Investment Bank, Diederick Zambon and European Union Delegation to Liberia Lawrence DELAHOUSSE signed.

According to the agreement, the rice value chain collaboration agreement also covers the supply of technical assistance services for the Ministry of Agriculture, including project implementation support services. The rice value chain initiative aims to increase rice production in Liberia, reducing the country’s reliance on rice imports and improving food and nutrition security, as well as people’s access to quality jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities.

From inputs, seedlings, and irrigation to food laboratories, warehouses, and distribution logistics, the program intends to support the full rice value chain. The technical assistance services are funded through an Africa Investment Platform grant from the European Development Fund. Diederick Zambon, the European Investment Bank’s Head of Division, Country Relations and Public Sector Sub-Saharan Africa, said the arrangement will help the country produce more food in the future.

“We have seen over the years a couple of crises whether it’s the Covid-19 or the war ongoing in Ukraine and its effect on food prices and energy. One of the most important things for people is to produce their own food. It is what we are working on now,” Mr. Zambon said. He said the agreement will work on increasing all the elements of the value chain on rice including seeds, warehousing, and distribution, stating “the idea is Liberia’s own rice production. We are very proud to support this program.”

The Head of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, Lawrence DELAHOUSSE said the war in Ukraine is having consequences on food commodities all over the world. “We at the European Union believe that there is a necessity to support local rice production so that Liberia can depend less on imports and more nationally produce food,” Ambassador DELAHOUSSE said. According to him, the signing of the US$4 million cooperation agreement is one of the approaches by the EU.

Jeanine M. Cooper, Liberia’s Minister of Agriculture, praised the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for initiating the program and the EIB for its support to the agriculture sector, particularly the rice value chain. Minister Cooper stated that if Liberia wants to increase rice production, it must focus on the private sector, which the Liberian government is enthusiastic about, including the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance and Development Planning.

 “We all know that we are producing rice in Liberia but not consuming the rice produced. We are consuming imported rice. 99 percent in Monrovia and its environs and maybe 60 to 70 percent of what is consumed will be imported rice but we are actually producing rice,” Minister Cooper said.

Minister Cooper stated that despite having the means, energy, and motivation to feed ourselves, Liberia remains reliant on imports and that actions must be taken to reduce dependency and boost rice sufficiency.

Deputy Minister for Budget at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Tanneh Brunson expressed gratitude to the EIB and European Union for affording Liberia the opportunity. “Rice is our staple food and we don’t produce it. This provides the platform for us. How can Liberia sustain the development and not be able to produce its own food,” Minister Brunson said.

The European Investment Bank is the European Union’s long-term lending institution, with 27 member states owning it. It’s the biggest international public bank on the planet. It provides long-term financing for solid investment to help the EU achieve its policy objectives. Since 1965, the European Investment Bank has sponsored transformative public and private investment across Africa, with the EIB operating in Liberia since 1978. It has supported, among other things, the repair of the Mount Coffee hydropower facility and is currently funding the Sanniquellie to Loguato road.

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