Isaac Gyamfi (right) signs the new partnership deal on behalf of Solidaridad while Ivan Borisavljevic represents the European Union delegation in Liberia
The Cocoa Value Chain Development Programme (COVADEP) comes on the heels of about two years of implementation of the Liberia Cocoa Sector Improvement Programme (LICSIP) by Solidaridad to create a vibrant, competitive and profitable cocoa economy within a robust national regulatory and institutional framework.
Under this new partnership with the European Union and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, the new programme will complement and build on LICSIP by including more cocoa farmers, processors, associations and communities in Liberia's Bong, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Nimba and River Gee counties.
Key national stakeholders witness the deal
Representatives of the European Union, the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory Authority and the media witnessed the signing of the new partnership.
“The government of Liberia recognizes and appreciates the work of Solidaridad and the contribution of the European Union to the agricultural sector,” Hon. Robert Fagans, deputy minister for Planning and Development at the Liberia Ministry of Agriculture, said at the signing. “It is our expectation that all sector-related interventions could be well-coordinated to improve the wellbeing of farmers.”
The government, EU and Solidaridad working together
Ivan Borisavljevic, team leader for Resilience at the European Union, signed the partnership agreement on behalf of the Union. He commended Solidaridad for the high-level of expertise exhibited in the implementation of the cocoa programme funded by the EU.
“This new contract with Solidaridad expands on our ongoing partnership to improve the Liberia cocoa sector, one of the European Union’s key sectors of interventions,” Borisavljevic said. “I assure you of the Union’s continuous support to the development of Liberia.”
Isaac Gyamfi, regional director of Solidaridad West Africa, pledged Solidaridad's commitment to supporting the continual improvement of the Liberian cocoa sector by contributing its experience in implementing cocoa sustainability programmes across West Africa and around the world.
“We consider our work successful when it improves the livelihoods of farmers, increases national revenue and sector resilience, and maximizes benefits for all supply chain actors,” Gyamfi said. “We will use our skills, knowledge and expertise to apply the resources at our disposal to improve farmers’ living conditions in line with the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.”
“We look forward to improving the quality of Liberian cocoa, being competitive on the international market and increasing traceability” - John Flomo, the Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulation Authority
Also present at the signing of the new Solidaridad-EU agreement for cocoa value development was John Flomo, the director general of the Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulation Authority, under whose leadership Solidaridad supported the authority to develop the first-ever cocoa and coffee policy in Liberia.
“We look forward to deepening our working relationship with Solidaridad under this new programme to improve the quality of Liberian cocoa, be competitive on the international market and increase traceability,” Flomo said.
What the new cocoa programme will do
The Cocoa Value Chain Development Programme will set up ten additional Centres for Cocoa Development by 2023. This will allow more cocoa farmers and allied groups to access support services to improve productivity and produce sustainable and certified cocoa.
To enhance revenue generation for the Liberian economy, Solidaridad will support more women and youth as entrepreneurs through incubation centres, and promote premium and certified cocoa through market engagement with international cocoa off-takers.
Under the programme, Solidaridad will support the training of appropriate institutions to enforce inclusive sector policies, incubate new cocoa related small businesses, develop systems for the supply of improved planting materials, and create investment incentives to promote downstream development.