Vice President Boakai Wants More Investment in Agriculture

Saturday, 19th June 2010
Monrovia, Liberia - Liberiaís Vice President Joseph N. Boakai says he would like to see the involvement of more rural dwellers in agricultural activities so that the countryside would become economically vibrant.

He observed that agriculture is the engine of economic growth for a third world country like Liberia, emphasizing that the fastest way to attain economic growth in Liberia is by building a strong agriculture sector.

Speaking Friday evening at his Capitol Building office when a delegation from the U.S based company, Pantropic paid a courtesy call on him, Vice President Boakai said the Unity party-led Government welcomes any company that prioritizes agriculture in its operations in Liberia.

He said despite huge investments by Sime Darby, Equatorial Biofeul and other companies in the oil palm sector, there are still huge opportunities for investment in this sector in Liberia, and named Kpatawee and Foya District as areas which are still untapped for the production of oil palm and other agricultural produce.

The Liberian Vice President observed that the production of palm kernel products would constitute a major source of livelihood for rural dwellers who can harvest palm kernels from wild palm trees as well. This, he added, would help improve living standards in the rural areas in line with Governmentís Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Vice President Boakai said he would also like to see the full reactivation of agricultural cooperatives throughout the country, the reconditioning of farm-to-market roads and the provision of tractors, trucks and fertilizers for farmers to ensure increased agricultural productivity.

Briefing Vice President Boakai earlier, Mr. Mark W. Mattison, Chief Executive Officer of Pantropic, said his company was interested in investing in all agricultural commodities in Liberia, including oil palm, cocoa and coffee.

He said his company has been awarded contracts for the production of 40,000 metric tons of oil palm per month, with net revenue of US$22 million per month.

According to Mr. Mattison, the company has ready buyers of cocoa and coffee in the United States, and that his company has been invited to participate in a loan worth about a one billion dollars because it has a successful project in Ghana, but needed to be guaranteed by the Liberian project.

He said when the company becomes fully operational in Liberia, he would set up a loan scheme which will provide loans to cooperatives interest free, to enable them purchase trucks, tractors and other equipment to make them fully functional and productive.

Mr. Mattison said his companyís goal is also to build roads and work with the National Port Authority to establish a bio-diesel plant for electrical generation not only for export, but for local consumption as well.  He added that the company is also interested in manufacturing hand- made oil.

In remarks, the Managing Director of the Cooperative Development Agency ( CDA), Mr. Gibson M. Tulay, said the agency is anxiously looking forward to the opportunity offered by Pantropic. He said the CDA has a good agreement with Pantropic, and that it needed the Agriculture Ministryís support in this endeavor.

The delegation was accompanied to the Vice Presidentís office by Counselor Negbalee Warner of LEITI as well as A. Richelieu Mitchell and Daniel Wrayee,  both of the Agriculture Ministry.