In support of the country’s flagship national development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), the Government of Liberia and Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) have signed the Host Country Agreement in Monrovia.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Host Country Agreement will grant, through AfricaRice, the privileges and amenities that they are entitled to, under the Conventions for International Organizations.
The signing ceremony took place on Friday, December 4, 2020 in the conference room of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Liberia’s Foreign Minister Mr. Dee-Maxwell SaahKemayah, Sr., signed on behalf of the Republic of Liberia, while Dr. Harold Roy-Macaulay, Director General of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), signed for his institution.
While signing the agreement, Foreign Minister Kemayah said the Government of Liberia looks towards not only the production of rice, but the implementation of the value chain as key in realizing the objective of the agreement signed.
“Rice is a very strategic and important commodity for our country which is tied into livelihood throughout the land and breadth of our country. No matter what we as Liberians eat daily, if we don’t eat rice, it means we have not eaten. That speaks volume as to the necessity of this agreement,” Minister Kemayah stresses.
The Liberian Foreign Minister discloses that President George Manneh Weah is very particular about the agriculture sector. According to Minister Kemayah, the Liberian economy has had some challenges, but he emphasizes that one area that provides a key source of hope for the economy is the agriculture sector.
Describing the agriculture sector as the lifeblood of the Liberian economy, Minister Kemayah says the signing of the Host Country Agreement between Liberia and the Africa Rice Center would go a long way in helping to address the food needs of the country, particularly the nation’s staple food, rice.
“It is within the framework of our flagship national development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) that was envisioned and crafted under the astute leadership of His Excellency President George Manneh Weah,” Minister Kemayah further emphasizes.
He assures an unwavering support and commitment to the Ministry of Agriculture for the success and realization of the Ministry’s mandate because, according to him, when Minister Jeannie M. Cooper succeeds, President Weah and the country have succeeded and will have enough food.
Through the agreement, Minister Kemayah expresses hope that a multifaceted approach would be implemented, taking into consideration small holder farmers and the promotion of some on-the-site demonstration and farmers’ school programs in agriculture.
Additionally, Minister Kemayah calls on Dr. Roy-Macaulay to convey to the rest of the AfricaRice team that Liberia looks forward to a ceremony at which time the organization’s headquarters can be returned to the country, owing to the fact that the war is over and Liberia has returned to normalcy.
For his part, Dr. Harold Roy-Macaulay, Director General of the Africa Rice Center, says rice has become a priority crop in other countries beyond the 14 countries that started the West Africa Rice Development Association. He says 28 countries are now members of the association, noting that rice has now become important and political.
Over the years, Dr. Macaulay says, AfricaRice has developed research, technology, methods and practices, policy options to improve rice production, and generated knowledge on rice grown in Africa. He says it is important that these new innovations be brought to Liberia.
Dr. Macaulay also notes that the Liberian Government has done its job, as he expresses appreciation to Liberia and gave AfricaRice’s assurance and commitment to the agreement which has been signed.
“And with regards to our job here, I want to assure you as well that we are going to have [a] very, very cordial relationship with the Minister of Agriculture and we have looked through the strategy and we are working to bring support to the Republic of Liberia,” he says.
In brief remarks, The Minister of Agriculture, Madam Jeannie M. Cooper applauds Foreign Minister Kemayah for the initiative in engaging friendly partners who are interested in supporting Liberia’s drive towards becoming self-sufficient in food production. She indicates that all the other things done in agriculture in Liberia could become meaningless if the sector does not get the production of rice right.
“We’ve been many, many years where we have been getting rice wrong, and this is one key step in making sure that we get rice right and I will be very pleased to convey to President Weah that we are taking this step; we are reinforcing our relationship with the AfricaRice Center,” she says.
Earlier in a welcome remark, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs Cllr. Deweh E. Gray says the signing ceremony was a result of many months of back and forth in terms of the language of the Host Country Agreement which will provide and grant, through AfricaRice, the privileges and amenities that they are entitled to under the Conventions for International Organizations.
AfricaRice grew out of the West Africa Rice Development Association which was created in 1971, and was hosted by the Republic of Liberia. The organization now has its headquarters in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire.