The closure of borders during the Coronavirus pandemic has had a serious effect on agriculture and food security for the last few months. (Pictured: a truck loaded with goods under inspection at the Ganta boarder customs in April this year.)
MOA food security situation report reveals
Recent food security report of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has revealed that cross border movement of agriculture produce and inputs are now allowed between Liberia and Guinea.
The cross border movement is occurring through four of the country’s three main border points, Ganta and Yekepa in Nimba County as well as Yeala and Voinjama in Lofa County, respectively in small quantities, the report said.
In March of this year when the Coronavirus was discovered in Liberia, a state of emergency was declared by the government that led to the closure of borders in bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Borders closure had a serious effect on agriculture and food security for the last few months as there are reports that farmers in the livestock sector could not access feeds for production alongside a limited supply of meat products on the Liberian market. Additional the closure of the borders had also contributed to the acute shortage of fertilizers and other inputs to enhance crop production.
Liberia heavily depends on neighboring countries like Guinea for agriculture produce and inputs and the COVID-19 situation has made the agricultural sector more volatile due to the lack of measures for agriculture at the earlier stage of the virus outbreak.
The recent food security report of the MOA also stated the high cost of commercial transport fares is causing price increase of food in Monrovia.
The report further stated that farmers in River Gee and Grand Gedeh counties who work with the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) on the production of certified rice seeds are currently harvesting their rice.
“These foundation seeds can be sold to other local farmers who are doing seed multiplication, the report said.
According to the report there is also a serious shortage of pesticides for vegetable farmers.
“Another challenge hindering food security is the lack of seed threshers to process rice seeds”
The report said because of the huge demand for agro equipment the MOA has started loaning out available power tillers to farmers based on need assessments.
The report further said that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has procured three tractors and assorted spare parts as a contribution to agriculture and food security.
It further revealed that resources are being made available through agro-dealers across the country to purchase seed rice just ahead of planting season with funding provided by the USAID through the Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture -Liberian Agribusiness Development Activity (CNFA-LADA) project.
The report disclosed that the Government has made available US$10,000 matching grant fund to improve potential agribusinesses in the country. The grant is part of the MOA’s Emergency Food Security Response to COVID-19 and is being availed as part of the World Bank-funded Smallholder Transformation & Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P).
Meanwhile, the MOA recent food security report has revealed the commencement of distribution of food supply to the most the vulnerable Liberian citizens affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Government recently approved a stimulus package of US$25 million to be used as food supply during the COVID-19 lockdown.