Africa-Press – Liberia. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the Ministry of Agriculture have concluded a day-long National Agriculture Extension and Advisory Services (NAEAS) policy and the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) Strategic Plan Validation Workshop in Monrovia with funding from the European Union (EU).
Speaking at the opening of the workshop on Monday, 28 November FAO Project Coordinator, Mr. Abegaz Hassen Ali said agriculture and food system in Liberia face several challenges, including lack of demand and farmers-driven research, including limited extension and advisory service delivery.
Mr. Ali noted that in Liberia, the implementation of sustainable research and extension systems is seen as a prerequisite for raising agricultural output and improved living standards.
He said research and pluralistic extension systems in the country have limited linkages with farmers, and research stakeholders. Moreover, from the comprehensive extension and research systems assessment and analysis, as well as consultations among stakeholders, it is evident that there is a lack of clear direction and governance for agricultural research and extension and its linkage with the private sector and other stakeholder.
He stressed that weak collaboration and institutional linkages among agricultural extension, research and farmers are major constraints for sustainable agricultural production intensification, food systems transformation, and innovation.
According to the FAO Project Coordinator, research system plays a pivotal role in promoting innovations, new technologies, and generating field data, while extension system is responsible to link farmers to new technologies, knowledge and innovations that are central in enhancing agricultural production.
Comprehensive measures toward fostering farmers and demand driven research and innovative extension services in the agricultural sector, he said will enhance not only the value chain, but also significantly improve the livelihoods, food security and nutrition.
FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing the “Linking Extension and Research to Farmers for sustainable agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition” project in Liberia.
The project will strengthen Liberia’s agriculture research and extension linkages and systems through preparation of policy and strategic plans for extension and research to support the institutional capacity building for research, extension, and the agricultural business centers.
It will also increase awareness on how research and extension workers will support farmers to yield sustainably improved agriculture production and productivity, food security and nutrition in Liberia
According to Mr. Ali, key deliverables of the project, among others, include agricultural research and extension systems to enhance productivity, increase income, and improve livelihoods for small-holders by implementation of existing policy and strategy frameworks
He pointed out that Agriculture is vital to the continued diversification of Liberia’s economy and to rural prosperity and food security for all Liberians.
“The country’s agricultural market system is exceedingly complex. Building the sector requires a systems approach that encompasses research and extension, targeting the entire value chains. Farmers won’t be able to take advantage of market prospects without connections to farmers, demand-driven research, skilled extension services, and market information”, he added
The workshop brought together over twenty-five (25) participants from the agriculture sector, including the Liberian media.