“This is one of the best projects that we have going in the country,” declared Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia.
“This is one of the best projects that we have going in the country” is how President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia described Purchase for Progress (P4P) during a ceremony to hand over a semi-industrial rice milling machine to the Dokodan Farmers Cooperative, one of the farmers’ organizations involved in the project, in Gbedin, Nimba County. Four machines will be donated and deployed in three different counties (Lofa, Nimba and Bong) to improve the efficiency of farmers’ groups in rice processing, help them meet higher quality standards and increase their know-how in the use and management of appropriate technologies. During the ceremony - attended also by the US Ambassador to Liberia - Linda Thomas Greenfield, the Chinese Ambassador to Liberia, the Ministers of Agriculture, Education and Employment - the Dokodan Cooperative also handed over 60 metric tons of rice purchased by WFP for the school meals programme in the country.
Launched by WFP and implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Gender and Development, FAO, and UNDP, P4P in Liberia is supporting 6,000 smallholder farmers improve their farming practices, ensure a market for their crops, and earn more money as a result. With the new machines, farmers can process and package their rice to meet minimum market standards.
WFP is offering a significant market outlet for locally produced rice, particularly for smallholder and low income farmers who supply rice to WFP food assistance projects. So far WFP has contracted a total of 650 metric tons of rice produced in Liberia. WFP is paying over US$30 for a 50 kg of milled rice. This is a significant income for families that would otherwise not be able to sell their produce. WFP collects the rice from the processing sites, close to the farmers. This is a major help for low-income farmers who cannot afford transport costs to take their rice to the market in larger centres.
“The P4P project has helped us to earn more money from rice farming and brought several organizations and individuals to help us, including our mother, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf”, said chairperson of the Dokodan Farmers Cooperative at the opening of the ceremony. He concluded by saying that “with P4P, we are back on our feet and ready to go even higher than our pre-war status, thanks to WFP and partners".
“P4P boosts smallholder farmers’ productive and technical capacities and fast-track their move toward self-sustainability,” said Louis Imbleau, WFP Country Director in Liberia.
For Ambassador Linda Tomas-Greenfield of the US, P4P is an example of collaboration demonstrating the strong will of the Liberian Government and international partners to work together, and pool resources for the benefit of the country. The United States government has recently donated US$500,000 to be used strictly for the purchase of local rice through P4P. This is out of a total contribution of US$3.5 million made to the Liberia school meals programme. The Howard G Buffett Foundation gave WFP a total of US$1.5 million as a seed fund to implement the capacity-building aspect of P4P in Liberia. The governments of Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Ireland and the European Union have also made donations to support of the P4P pilot.