Liberia’s Cocoa Sector Gets Big Boost as Regional Collaboration Gears to Overcome Binding Constraints on Growth￼
Monrovia – As part of efforts to improve cocoa production in Liberia; the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has held a one-day validation workshop study on Liberia’s Cocoa value-chain.
The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), the Center for Policy Action and Research (CePAR), and the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG) are the CSOs working with ACET on this project.
The study title: “Regional Collaboration on Overcoming Binding Constraints on the Growth of Liberia’s Cocoa Value Chain” adopts a whole country economy approach that examines the challenges confronting the Liberian cocoa value chain and benchmarks against good practices and success stories on the continent and elsewhere.
The one-year study outlines barriers to the growth of Liberia’s cocoa value chain and recommendations to leverage opportunities available in the sector.
The study is funded by the USAID under the Liberia Economic Policy Dialogue Activity (LEPDA). LEPDA is a four-year technical assistance, capacity development, and grants project that aims to foster self-reliance by spurring private sector-led economic expansion in Liberia.
The project seeks among other things, to increase citizen participation and advocacy in the policy-making arena by strengthening CSOs’ capacity to conduct robust policy analysis and become effective partners in the policymaking process.
Speaking on the importance of this study, Dr. Julius Gatune, Lead Researcher at ACET, praised the study which he said was done in three cocoa-growing counties of Liberia -Bong, Lofa and Nimba.
“It is our expectation that the findings of this study will provide key policy lessons for reforms that target farmers and women in the cocoa industry in Liberia, and improve policy engagement between the Liberian government and the citizenry,” Dr. Gatune said.
Additionally, the study conducts a Political Economy Analysis (PEA) to support development of policy advocacy that is needed for uptake and implementation of recommendations, by the Government of Liberia, he said.
Adding up, Joe-Hoover Gbadyu, Representative on Economic Growth specialist-USAID, addressing stakeholders at the workshop to validate the findings and recommendations in the initial report indicated that elaborate further on LEPDA stating the initial report of the study identified innovations that can be domesticated by leveraging partnerships with key stakeholders and learning from regional peers.
These include solutions for first mile transport problems, financial inclusion, and access to inputs, storage and markets. The report also makes policy recommendations to catalyze and scale innovations identified, which stakeholders at the validation workshop will discuss and approve.
Also speaking Clemenceau B. Urey is the president for Atlantic Cocoa Exporting and Processing Company. He said the policy will only become good when it is implemented.
He further calls on the government of Liberia to provide the environment for the cocoa sector to operate smoothly. According to him, one of the major challenges exporters are facing in the cocoa sector is the issue of finance
“Build the structure, let financial institutions give out loans, not the one with a high percentage,” Urey said.
Musa Konneh, Director General of LACRA. He listed some gains that the government has made in the cocoa sector. He added that Liberia produces if not the highest grade of cocoa in the region.
Konneh added that most of the cocoa produced in Lofa County is taken to nearby Sierra Leone; something he says is a serious problem for the sector.
He listed low budget, assets to market to the farm road, and warehouses are some of the things hampering the smooth operation of the cocoa sector in Liberia.