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.
The Ebola outbreak delayed implementation of planned SAPEC activities due to restricted access to project sites, the closure of educational institutions, and the delayed arrangements for the provision of advisory and implementation services. So far, 136,110
poor people, 60 percent of whom are women, have benefited from the project, which ultimately expects to benefit 150,000 people, 60 percent of whom are expected to be women. To date, 14 improved climate resistant rice varieties have been promoted in collaboration with AfricaRice. Eight power tillers and accessories have been delivered to farmer groups. The project supported farm production in 7,000 households, including 750 households for vegetable production (500 hectares), 1,625 for lowland rice
production (1,800 hectares), 1,375 for upland rice production (4,000 hectares), and 3,250 for cassava production (7,213 hectares). In addition, 43,046 farmers, of whom 51 percent are women, have received agro-inputs through LATA. Seed rice, cassava
stems, and fertilizer have been distributed to farmers across the country via the e-wallet system. The project developed the first farmer e-database with over 321,766 farmers spanning all 15 counties across the country recording their phone numbers, ID photos, and assigned ID numbers. During the exercise, over 300 sites were identified across the entire country that can serve as a one-stop shop for services such as farmer registration, e-extension services, input distribution, and off-taking.
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