In Liberia, 64% of the population –more than two million people– lives below the poverty line. The agriculture sector – food and tree crops, fisheries, and livestock – accounts for 38.8% of GDP, and 70% of the country’s population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. The sector is a significant contributor to the economy in terms of employment and foreign exchange earnings, and a primary determinant of nutrition, education, poverty reduction, and rural transformation. Women are major players, producing over 60% of agricultural products and constituting the majority of smallholder producers and the agricultural labor force. Approximately half of the population is either food insecure or highly vulnerable to food shortages due in part to low agricultural productivity that, in turn, is caused by structural impediments, inadequate policies, and prolonged conflicts that displaced farming communities, degraded transport and processing infrastructures, and diminished productive capacities such as assets and skilled personnel.
The Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization Project (SAPEC) aims to transform Liberia’s agriculture sector, which is dominated by traditional subsistence farming systems and is characterized by labor-intensive shifting cultivation and low technologies that result in low productivity. The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) in Côte d’Ivoire and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria are key implementing partners for this project. SAPEC also
supports the Liberia Agriculture Transformation Agenda (LATA), which includes targeted programs and action plans that raise agricultural productivity by delivering modern inputs and finance to farmers and agribusinesses. The project promotes the use of
improved technologies for rice, cassava, and vegetables such as climate change-resilient rice varieties and fertilizers, develops new irrigation and drainage systems in lowlands, and rehabilitates feeder roads, storage facilities, and agro-processing equipment. The
project addresses the acute shortage of skilled manpower for planning and supervision of sector development activities by providing postgraduate scholarships to Master’s degree programs in various agriculture-related disciplines in Ghana, Kenya, and
Tanzania. It also promotes rural enterprises for employment creation, particularly for women, youth, and the physically challenged, especially in rice and cassava processing.
Results: As of December 2019, the project has reached 145,754 people (43.7 percent women). SAPEC has met its target of using 500 hectares of developed lowland for vegetable production, achieved by 600 farmers across the project counties, including farmers’ base organizations; trained and built the capacities of about 2,800 farmers, NGOs, and project field officers on improved practices in rice, cassava, and vegetable production and on post-harvest/value addition techniques. The project also introduced 14 improved and climate change-resilient rice varieties that mature early (80–100 days) and that can be grown two times in one rainy season under low altitude conditions; and constructed and equipped each of six cassava processing facilities in five counties with a 5 MT capacity flash dryer, wet hammer mill, dry hammer mill, mechanical peeler, pulverizer, hydraulic press, weighing scales, and 65 KVA generator, providing employment opportunities for 160 people among the five fully operational facilities. It also
completed constructing nine post-harvest facilities, reaching the end-of-project target and directly employing 141 people.
Task Team Leader & Senior Agricultural Economist
Official Project Documents:
- Cover Letters with Endorsements from: the Government and the Donor Group
- GAFSP Proposal
- Agriculture and Food Security Strategy
- Sector Investment Plan
- CAADP Compact
- CAADP Technical Review Report