In a groundbreaking move towards transforming Liberia’s cocoa sector, Solidaridad, an international civil society, is spearheading the construction of the country’s first post-war cocoa greenhouse. This ambitious initiative is set to revolutionize cocoa production, enhance quality, and propel Liberia into the forefront of agricultural competitiveness.
Liberia’s Cocoa Landscape:
Cocoa, a vital cash crop and foreign exchange earner in Liberia, stands alongside rubber, oil palm, and timber in economic significance. Despite its potential, Liberia’s cocoa production has been relatively modest, with an annual yield of approximately 9,000 metric tons and average yields trailing behind neighboring countries at 200 kg/ha, almost a third of the regional average.
The COVADEP Initiative:
Enter the Cocoa Value Chain Development Program (COVADEP), generously funded by the European Union (EU), which is steering resources towards the creation of a modern cocoa greenhouse. This visionary project, led by Solidaridad West Africa, is poised to equip the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) with the essential tools to conduct impactful research, addressing critical challenges faced by the sector.
Empowering Agricultural Research:
Dr. Victor Sumo, Director General of CARI, underscored the institute’s challenges, including a lack of research infrastructure, insufficient staff capacity, and weak research extension linkages. With unwavering support from Solidaridad West Africa and the EU, these obstacles are now being systematically addressed, propelling CARI towards becoming a center of excellence for agricultural research, innovation, and capacity building.
Dr. Sumo expressed his optimism, stating, “CARI will become a center of excellence for agricultural research, innovation, and capacity building for development. With this, we are taking a leap to achieving our desires.”
A Symbol of Progress: The newly constructed cocoa greenhouse stands as a tangible manifestation of this support, aligning seamlessly with CARI’s Strategic Plan, envisioning the institute as a hub for agricultural research excellence. This cutting-edge facility is set to play a pivotal role in achieving the institute’s mission of contributing to increased productivity, commercialization, and competitiveness in the agricultural sector.
Crucial Role in Achieving Goals:
The greenhouse is not merely a structure; it represents a critical step towards achieving CARI’s goals by providing a conducive environment for crop studies and fostering innovation in agronomic practices. Marvin Samuel, Program Manager of COVADEP, emphasized the initiative’s significance, stating, “The provision of a cocoa greenhouse to CARI will positively impact crop studies, leading to new and improved agronomic practices. We are glad that we can be a part of this huge contribution that will directly benefit cocoa producers and processors.”
Financial Commitment for Agricultural Development:
With a total project cost estimated at US$163,000.00, this financial injection underscores Solidaridad West Africa and the EU’s unwavering commitment to Liberia’s agricultural development. This investment is poised to catalyze research activities around cocoa, offering valuable knowledge and innovation to empower farmers, ultimately enhancing their farming activities.
Solidaridad’s cocoa greenhouse initiative marks a transformative moment for Liberia’s agricultural landscape. As the country takes bold steps towards becoming a hub for agricultural research excellence, the positive ripple effects are bound to be felt throughout the cocoa value chain. This visionary project not only symbolizes progress but also lays the foundation for a sweeter and more competitive future for Liberia’s cocoa sector.
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