By Ballah M. Kollie,
Monrovia, July 21 (LINA) – An official of the U.S. Agency for International Development Food and Enterprise Development (USAID-FED) says the institution is building the capacity of five businesses in Lofa, Nimba, Bong, Grand Bassa and Margibi counties.
According to USAID-FED Chief of Party Lee Rosner when they are completed and become fully operational, the entities will serve as full-fledged Enterprise Service Centers (ESCs) that will provide agribusiness services to strengthen value chains in five of the six operational counties of the project.
Rosner told the Liberia News Agency in an interview that the centers will, among other things, serve as extension, transportation, equipment rental and agriculture inputs sales to farmers.
« As FED thinks about its transition, we want to ensure that the five ESCs are
fully operational as they are expected to have a much longer lifespan in the country than the FED project, » Rosner indicated.
He noted the improvement of business plans and business skills with the aim of sensitizing farmers about the need for them to visit the centers, pay a small fee for service, to improve their harvests and sales which, he thinks, will automatically enhance the growth of their business as well as help to improve food security for them.
« Another sustainable effort as FED rolls out is the solidifying of Public-Private Partnership which has existed with aggregators, farmers and medium-to-large enterprises across the country, » Rosner noted.
He added that FED is drafting three global development alliance applications which will provide long-term structures to these partnerships so that businesses that received substantial assistance from FED will continue to enhance the value chains for rice, cassava, vegetables for years to come.
USAID-FED is a US$75 million five-year agriculture project that began in 2011 and has worked with thousands of Liberian farmers in Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado counties.
The tenure of the project was recently extended to December instead of September this year as earlier scheduled.
The project, among others things, conducted training for thousands of farmers, provided tools, machinery as well as introduced new farming methods.