The Board of directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved US$5.12mn financing for the Emergency Food Production Programme in Liberia
This paves the way for the government to support farmers as they increase climate resilient food production and mitigate the impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine. The funding includes a grant of US$2.28mn and a loan of US$2.84mn from the Bank Group’s Transition Support Facility.
Agriculture is a major part of Liberia’s economy which contributes about 26% to GDP. Overall agricultural productivity, however, is low. This is because of factors such as weak basic infrastructure, including farm equipment and inadequate farm-to-market roads. There is also limited application of fertilisers and pesticides, and inadequate food storage capacity. The civil conflict experienced by the country between 1989 and 2003 and the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015 compounded challenges even further.
Nearly 50% of Liberia’s population is considered food insecure, and childhood malnutrition is persistent. Currently, 35% of children below five are stunted and 15% of these children are underweight.
The food production programme in Liberia is part of the sector budget support under the AfDB’s African Emergency Food Production Facility (AEFPF) designed to increase climate resilient food production for Africa’s farmers in the wake of such global shocks as the war in Ukraine and rising fuel and fertiliser prices.
The AEFPF will provide 20 mn African smallholder farmers with certified seeds and increase access to agricultural fertilisers, thus enabling them to rapidly produce 38 mn tons of food. The Liberia programme which will be implemented from 2022 to 2024 will enable the government to provide direct smart subsidies to vulnerable farmers. The financing will also enable the government to facilitate farmers’ access to improved seeds and fertilisers.
“We welcome this timely and highly awaited approval, which will improve food and nutrition security in Liberia and the regulatory environment for climate-smart agriculture,” said the AfDB country manager for Liberia, Benedict Kanu. “With healthy Liberians being arguably the greatest asset the country can have, hardly any other priority could be more pressing than addressing food insecurity to safeguard the calorie and nutrition needs of Liberians and protecting their human development,” he added.
The African Emergency Food Production Facility has already benefitted 26 countries in Africa with 26 programmes worth US$1.257bn.