According to a report by Farmers Review Africa, Liberia is set to take lessons from cocoa production leaders, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, in developing a sustainable cocoa sector.
There is the need to look at the regional value chain and how they interface between the various countries’ policies and regulations and this is according to Edward Brown, Senior Director Research, Policy, and Programmes at African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET).
Edward noted “Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire produce almost two-thirds of world cocoa; Liberia’s cocoa development would further augment that percentage. So there is the need to look at how we situate the Liberian cocoa production, policy, and industry to ensure that they have the maximum benefit from the experiences of the other countries”.
Though Liberia’s economy has been dominated by rubber plantations and large farms, cocoa has been identified as a national priority for export diversification and highlighted in the Liberia National Export Strategy (2014-2018).
Nonetheless, there are challenges in the country’s cocoa sector, including an underdeveloped value-chain, old and diseased trees, lack of inputs, poor fermentation techniques, limited financing, high labour cost, lack of drying, packaging, and drying techniques.
The African Center for Economic Transformation and USAID initiated a dialogue on “Regional Collaboration on Overcoming Binding Constraints on the Growth of Liberia’s Cocoa Value Chain”.
Cocoa production in Liberia and Agricultural Sector Investment Plan
There are over 40,000 farmers growing cocoa in Liberia, with individual farmers cultivating an average of three acres of cocoa.
The Liberia Agricultural Sector Investment Plan (LASIP) seeks to diversify the country’s economy through robust agricultural value chains and a modern industrial policy to increase cocoa production, productivity, and income from 2018 to 2022.
The Government of Liberia and IFAD also have a $23 million financing to boost cocoa production, targeting Nimba County with the intervention expected to help increase annual cocoa production to over 10,000 metric tons.
A sustainable cocoa sector in Liberia is focused on three areas: Investments and cocoa marketing; Sustainable production and quality control; and Environment and climate change.
The Liberia Economic Policy Dialogue Activity (LEPDA) project, a USAID-funded four-year technical assistance, capacity development, and grants project, aims to foster self-reliance by spurring private sector-led economic expansion in Liberia.
The project is implemented by Nathan Associate in collaboration with the government of Liberia and civil society organizations (CSOs).
The Project convened key players involved in Liberia’s cocoa sector to participate in an inception meeting to help in shaping and executing the research project towards enhancing the cocoa industry in Liberia.
They included government and policymakers, farmer organizations, the private sector, development partners, and the media.
The project seeks to develop the capacity of civil society for the agriculture-based transformation through the value chains.
The CSOs capacity development processes will include a cocoa value-chain study and political economy analysis, which will lead to policy dialogue and the development of a Liberia Cocoa Policy.
The goal is to have an upgraded cocoa value chain as well as a capable and credible framework. The process will include a comparative analysis of cocoa producing economies like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, which already have an existing partnership.