Liberia Gets First National Cocoa Seed Garden
Liberia has established its first-ever national cocoa seed garden to provide quality and improved planting materials for smallholder farmers.
Until now the unavailability of quality planting material had been a major concern for the West African country’s cocoa sector.
The national cocoa seed garden intervention comes at a time the Liberian government through the Ministry of Agriculture is actively promoting productivity in the cocoa sector.
The facility is a 75-acre cocoa seed garden that will provide quality certified hybrid seedlings for distribution to farmers at a reasonable cost.
Approximately 25,000 cocoa farmers, who are members of cooperatives across Liberia, will have access to the seedlings, addressing the constraints faced by smallholder farmers in getting improved cocoa hybrid seeds for planting.
The National Cocoa Seed Garden located at Beeplay, Buuyao District in Nimba County, is expected to serve farmers throughout the country.
The NCSG was made possible through a partnership between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Tree Crop Extension Project of the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA).
It will guarantee the availability of improved, certified and quality planting materials thus bringing an end to the importation of cocoa seedlings.
Liberia, a budding cocoa producer nation, has over the years depended on neighbouring countries for cocoa seedlings.
An agronomist compound and offices have also been completed for the use of technical personnel of the Cocoa Seed Garden.
The centre is also poised to introduce improved technology of agroforestry for cocoa as relates to climate resilience agriculture practice to enhance farmers’ incomes.
The Minister of Agriculture, Jeanine M. Cooper, accompanied by IFAD Country Director for Liberia and Sierra Leone, Pascaline Barankeba, and the IFAD Supervision Mission toured the centre to assess the progress being made by the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) in managing the seed garden.
Other members of the minister’s entourage included the International Development Consultant, David Doolan, a scientist at CARI, Quoiquoi Mulbah, as well as IFAD Project Implementation Unit (PIU) Coordinator, Emmanuel G. Vah and other dignitaries.
Madam Cooper commended the impressive work done at the national cocoa seed garden.
“The government is very much pleased about the level of transformation now taking place in the cocoa sector. We are working with international partners to ensure that Liberian cocoa competes globally,” she said.
She emphasised the need for Liberian students of agriculture to take advantage of the facility to learn improved technologies in cocoa production to support the effort of sustainability.
The project coordinator for IFAD, Emmanuel G. Vah, assured the site and soil selected for the establishment of the seed garden are thoroughly tested and proven to be suitable.
He was optimistic that the seed garden will enhance input supplies of cocoa seedlings and assist other beneficiaries along the cocoa value chain.
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