Liberia: Agriculture Ministry Launches Agriculture Adaptation Project
5 September 2012
Major Stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Environment Protection Agency, Tertiary Institutions as well as civil society groups on climate change issues among others, converged at the SKD Sports Stadium last week to participate in the Launching and Inception Workshop of an Agriculture Adaptation Project. The project titled “Enhancing Resilience to Climate Change by Mainstreaming Adaption Concerns into Agriculture Sector Development in Liberia is a pilot project that is expected to be implemented in Bong and Grand Gedeh Counties. It is being supported by the United Nations Development Program- Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF). It follows a GEF agreement signed between the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture and UNDP last year (2011).
At the two-day launch, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative for Program Cleophas Torori noted that climate change poses serious threats to the agricultural sector. Mr. Torori said studies show that Liberia is vulnerable to projected climate change, especially as they relate to low land rice production. “The good news is that the Government of Liberia has not lost sight of the dangers related to climate change” Mr. Torori noted. The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative moreover reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment to remain engaged with the Liberian Government, expressing the hope that the project will seek to bring about adaptive solutions to climate change.
The UN-Food and Agriculture Program (FAO) is also one of the major partners to this project and is expected to work directly with farmers at demonstration sites that will be set up during the project. FAO Country Representative Jean-Alexandre Scaglia referred to Climate Change as one of the biggest challenges the world is faced with at the moment. He described it as an extremely complex issue for the rest of the world. Mr. Scaglia however noted that there are technical solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change, terming the Project as timely. He recommended that the fight should be directed at the community level with the participation of farmers.
The Deputy Minister for Technical Services at the Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Sizi Subah officially launched the Climate Change Project with a call on participants to actively participate in the brain-storming sessions that will identify those activities that will help mitigate climate change issues under the project. Minister Zubah stated that as a result of climate change in Liberia, farmers have put the planting of rice above all other agriculture activities adding, that farmers need to form part of the new farming technology. “Climate Change is a reality and should be the business of everyone” Mr. Subah asserted. He urged stakeholders and other partners to derive solutions to the effects that may follow.
In separate statements, a Representative of the Global Environment Facility Saliha Dobardzic affirmed their support to the success of the project, adding, that climate change undermines all aspects of development.
The Executive Director of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Anyaa Vohiri pointed out that the fight against climate change is to ensure that there is food security. Madam Vohiri noted that it is essential that all key stakeholders are a part of the launch of this project.
The Deputy Minister for Planning at the Ministry of Planning/Finance Harrison Luo who proxy for Finance Minister Amara Konneh, stated that climate change has global and local effects on the lives of all citizens, noting that the effects are seen in the agricultural sector.
The five-year project will support ongoing process to revitalize the agriculture sector, and ensure that adaptation to climate change is integrated into the revitalization process. The general objective of the project is to increase resilience of poor, agricultural-dependent communities and decrease the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to climate change in Liberia. It is primarily to reduce vulnerability of farmers to climate change by diversifying crop farming through the cultivation of soybeans, lowland rice and small ruminant rearing.
The two-day inception workshop involved all stakeholders including Government of Liberia (GoL), UNDP country office and regional technical policy and program advisors, civil society, private sector, training institutions as well as other key actors. It was designed to assist all partners fully understand and take ownership of the project as well as detail the roles, support services and complementary responsibilities within the project's decision-making structures, including reporting and communication lines, and conflict resolution mechanisms.
The total cost of the five-year project is put at eight million United States dollars (US$8,000,000.00) which constitutes both in kind and parallel funding. UNDP’s support is in the tune of US$ 200,000 dollars cash of co-financing and US$2.3million dollars grant from the GEF. Parallel funding is expected to come from the Government of Liberia, FAO, and Civil Society Organizations etc. This funding does not necessarily constitute actual cash but interventions that are currently being made by these institutions working in the areas of climate change.