…To Reduce Rice Importation By 70%

Monrovia-May-3-2024-TNR:The West African state of Liberia, a country that hugely depends on rice as its major diet has over the years imported the commodity despite the availability of huge farmlands to be cultivated for the production of rice.  

It is no secret that leaders of past administrations have downplayed the growth of rice in the country but rather depended on the importation of the commodity to sustain the over five million population of the country.

But speaking on agriculture which is number one of the President’s AREST Agenda when he addressed the nation Wednesday, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai disclosed that his administration has taken major steps to boost agriculture as a cornerstone of the nation’s economic development.

He said among other measures taken his government has completed a national agriculture development plan, which will be ready for validation in the next two weeks.”

“In addition, a critical intervention to ensure we achieve our goal of reducing rice importation by 70% started this quarter with the acquisition and cultivation of 2000 hectares of land in Bong, Lofa, and Nimba Counties. To date, the Ministry of Agriculture has begun the cultivation of 1000 hectares of lowland at Fuamah Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Bong Mines,” President Boakai said.

He added that in addition, the government has launched and started the cultivation of the University of Liberia farms in Fendall, which is aimed at feeding students, generating income, and for practical training and research.

Speaking on the issue of narcotic drugs that is affecting thousands of Liberian youths, the Liberian leader noted, “In January, this year we declared the drug and substance abuse epidemic in the country a national health emergency. As a result, the government saw the need to address what is perhaps one of the most troubling social crises of the modern era in Liberia. We are happy to announce that several interventions to combat the crisis have already been made this quarter in keeping with the stated deliverables.”

The President disclosed that an inter-ministerial committee to lead the fight against substance and drug abuse was establishedadding, “Similarly, a robust public awareness campaign to dissuade young people from drug use has been taking place in schools, communities, churches, and mosques.”

Boakai added, “In addition, 123 beneficiaries of the At-Risk Youth Program have been transitioned from rehabilitation to recovery and reintegration. To show further commitment to suffering families, who are dealing with this crisis, the government has secured 50 acres of public land in Bentol for the construction of a National Referral Neuropsychiatric Hospital. Still on the health front, and for good measure, our intervention has yielded a substantial reduction in maternal and neonatal deaths.”

On the issue of Public Administration, Boakai noted that strengthening public administration for efficiency, including payroll and personnel audits across the MACs to eliminate waste and save the government urgently needed funds has begun to bear fruits. He added that other interventions such as the launch of a National Consultancy Policy to enhance the efficient use of the often-abused consultancy services in government was achieved under his 100-days deliverables.

On Sanitation, he added, “It is well known that we inherited a poor sanitation system that we immediately sought to address. To date, we have acquired the trucks and equipment needed and have begun to clear the sewage system in Monrovia. Similarly, we have begun to restore the water supply to Central Monrovia, Bushrod Island, Kakata, and Buchanan.

On Education, President Boakai noted, “We have made strides in meeting our targets in education during our first 100 days. Key deliverables included paying scholarship arrears for Local and foreign students and investing in Youth capacity building in ICT for the first six months.

“To date, the Government of Liberia has allotted funds for the payment of arrears for both local and international scholarship students. These arrears include underwriting expenditures such as monthly allowances, resettlement assistance, air ticket costs, French language training programs, and other administrative and operational costs associated with students’ well-being. Additionally, my administration inherited a debt of nearly 6 million of unpaid fees to the West African Examination Council for WASSCE sat by our students. Despite meager resources, US$3.5 Million has been appropriated in the FY 2024 budget for the payment of WASSCE fees.

A complete digital training program and start-up seed funding for youth capacity building in ICT has been developed, with major facilities to host the training already assessed in seven counties.

The project has already been launched with thousands of enterprising young Liberians in queue to register.

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