Agriculture Can Save Liberia, But How?

first_imgThe Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) released some grim statistics last week, showing a drastic rise in the country’s trade deficit.Our Business Correspondent, George Kennedy, quoting CBL’s figures for the first quarter of 2014, reported that Liberia’s trade deficit widened by a staggering 86.9 percent to US$77.0 million from US$41.2 million as at December, 2013.Total trade volume amounted to US$382.1 million with import receipts alone accounting for US$226.9 million. The CBL blames the widened trade deficit on a 4.2 percent decline in merchandise export earnings, couple with a 14.6 percent decline in merchandise import payments.Commodities export receipts declined by 25.1 percent to US$152.5 million in the review quarter, from US$159.1 million at the end ofDecember, 2013, which the CBL attributes largely on account of a 25.1 percent fall in rubber export earnings to US$30.2 million in March, 2014, from US$40.3 million in December, 2013.The CBL warned that weaker than expected growth prospects in the United States and struggling recovery in the Euro zone may perpetuate the decline in rubber prices in the near term.This drastic decline in earnings from the rubber sector was expected, as Liberia’s rubber planters, including the giants, Firestone, Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC), Salala Rubber Company (SRC) and Morris American Rubber (MAR),  recently reported huge losses due to sudden drop in world rubber demand.The iron ore sector also suffered heavy losses, owing to the corresponding decline in the demand for this commodity.  We recall that several months ago Sesa Goa, the Indian company which operates iron ore in Liberia’s Western Cluster, reported that it had reduced its operations by 80%, owing to drastic drop in demand for this commodity.What does all this tell us?  It tells us that we need to start focusing again on farming, which has consistently declined since the outbreak of the Liberian civil war, when there was massive destabilization and farmers found it impossible to work their farms.The situation has, most unfortunately, not improved over the past eight and a half years of the current government.  Why? Because President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has had bad luck with her Agriculture Ministers.  This is not because of the lack of money.  The international community, realizing how much devastation the war inflicted upon this country, including its farms, rallied enthusiastically to the rescue not only with food aid but with finances, too, to help revive Liberia’s agriculture.  Barely two months before he was let go by President Sirleaf, her first Agriculture Minister, Dr. Chris Toe, told the nation that a staggering US$100 million was available to boost Liberia’s agriculture.  That led the socio-political commentator, Mother Mary Brownell, to ask angrily in a letter to the Daily Observer Editor, “Where is the money?  We see no evidence of it anywhere.”  She was right.  At that point the nation was still importing most of its food.Under Ellen’s second Agriculture Minister, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, the situation has worsened, as Liberians continue to import  almost everything they eat, including bitterball!This newspaper has frequently pleaded with the Agriculture Ministry to flood the nation’s farms with agricultural extension agents, who would help the farmers utilize the benefits of research conducted at the Central Agricultural Research Institute CARI).  Nearly four years ago Minister Chenoweth said she was training extension agents to do just that.  Alas, the agents are nowhere to be found; andLiberia is still importing most of the rice it consumes, and meat and even vegetables!How shall agriculture SAVE Liberia?  By growing our own rice, meat and vegetables; and by investing heavily in tree crops, such as coffee, cocoa and rubber.  Ellen needs to find an Agriculture Minister who BELIEVES THAT LIBERIA CAN GROW HER OWN RICE, A MINISTER WHO POSSESSES THE KNOWLEDGE AND ENERGY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. This alone would save the US$300 million we spend importing rice, and almost erase our balance of payments deficit.Our people already know how to grow bitterball, peanuts, pepper and other veggies.  We could even start growing carrots in Foya, Lofa County, and cattle in the southeast, beginning in Grand Cess, Grand Kru County and Foya.But you need an Agriculture Minister with the ENTHUSIASM seriously to engage our farmers and put them back to work: THAT’S HOW!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Road Construction Company ‘Remains’ Committed to Projects

first_imgSSF Entrepreneur Inc., one of the companies (re)constructing Liberia’s road networks, has pledged its commitment to all the road project contracts it undertook from the Government.It said despite the challenges, it was still committed to all the contracts that it signed with the Government of Liberia.SSF, through its CEO, Shawki Fawaz, made the vow at a press conference in Monrovia Wednesday, January 15.He said Liberia has many infrastructural challenges and that they have pledged themselves in the ongoing reconstruction of the country ravaged by years of civil conflict.Fawaz’s commitment comes in the wake of constant reports in the public that the company is dealing clandestinely and most of its contracts were awarded fraudulently.SSF said at no time did it get a fraudulent contract as had been reported in a local daily. The daily alleged that the company colluded with officials of the Ministry of Public Works to extort and expropriate (steal) from the Liberian Government through the awarding of fake road contracts across the country.“SSF deals with the Liberian Government and people in good faith and will continue to do that in keeping with its operational rules. That all of the contracts awarded the company were legitimate and followed all of the necessary transparency regimes on the Liberian books and that SSF has no interest whatsoever in engaging into fake arrangement as the company has since distinguished and exemplified itself by the excellent manner in which it has conducted business in Liberia over the years,” Fawaz stressed.He further that the malicious publications are certainly a financed effort to blemish his company’s “enviable reputation” and said “such ventures will yield no results, as SSF stands taller and firmer.”Among the roads that the company (re)constructing are AB Tolbert and Duport Roads in Paynesville City and Marshall road, off the main road leading to Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Afghanistan celebrates ‘big dream’ coming true as they receive Test status

first_imgAfghanistan celebrated its entry into Test cricket on Thursday, saying it was a dream come true for the country which has suffered from years of violence and conflict.The International Cricket Council voted in London to make Afghanistan, along with Ireland, full members of the organisation, allowing those countries to become part of the elite 12 nations who play Test matches.”I can’t express right now how excited I am,” said Shir Agha Hamkar, Afghanistan cricket’s team manager.”It was a big dream of the cricket board, our team and every Afghan. Afghanistan has made tremendous progress, in the last few years. We have been playing very good cricket, beating full members like Zimbabwe,” he said at a celebration where a special cake was shared to mark the occasion.”Thanks to all the players as well. They have shown their talent to the world and shown that yes, we deserve to be a full member nation,” he said.Afghanistan are likely to play their first Test match in 2018 and are expected to continue to play home games in the Indian city of Noida due to security concerns.”Today is a historic day for the Afghan people because in such a political situation of Afghanistan, Afghan cricket has obtained full membership status. This is historic, every Afghan is happy,” said Dost Mohammad Nazari, deputy head of the Afghanistan Cricket Board.Cricket has undergone a boom in recent years in Afghanistan with the rise of Twenty20 cricket, its big-hitting and constant action generating huge interest among fans.advertisementA new generation of supporters has avidly followed the team’s growing success.After a last-gasp victory over Zimbabwe last year, heavy gunfire broke out in the Afghan capital Kabul as ecstatic supporters, who had watched on television, let off automatic weapons into the air, lighting up the sky with tracer bullets and prompting initial fears of an attack by insurgents.”This is a huge thing for the whole nation. We’re all proud of this cricket team and cricket board,” said journalist Rahim Gul Sarwan.”We’re so happy and I hope that in the next five or three years, Afghanistan will be in a position to beat big teams in the cricket world.”last_img read more

Nissan to reveal new 2020 Versa at a music festival

first_img Nissan New York Auto Show 2019 Nissan More From Roadshow 96 Photos Apr 19 • Volkswagen’s US CEO says around $25,000 would be a smart price for a small pickup See All reading • Nissan to reveal new 2020 Versa at a music festival May 29 • 2020 Ford Escape: Everything there is to know Today’s Nissan Versa is one of the oldest compact cars you can buy, having been first introduced back in 2011 as a 2012 model. Then at the 2014 New York Auto Show, the Versa received a facelift for the 2015 model year. While the Versa is impressively affordable, it’s never been one of our favorites and it feels out-of-date compared to its competition.With the April 12 debut putting the Versa’s reveal right before the start of New York Auto Show press days, we should get a chance to see the new car in the Big Apple, too. Either way, check back with Roadshow for full details and photos once the 2020 Nissan Versa is revealed. Apr 19 • Acura MDX PMC Edition is a hand-assembled SUV in brilliant red paint Tags The completely redesigned 2020 Nissan Versa will debut at Rock the Ocean’s @festivaltortuga in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on April 12, 2019. #TortugaFest #NissanVersa2020— Nissan (@NissanUSA) March 28, 2019 2020 Hyundai Palisade review: Posh enough to make Genesis jealouscenter_img 0 2020 Nissan Versa first drive: 15% more price, 100% more car New York Auto Show 2019 • Enlarge ImageThe current Nissan Versa, shown here, will soon be replaced. Nissan Carmakers increasingly use special events to introduce new cars away from the hubbub of international auto shows, and it appears Nissan will follow that route with its smallest sedan. Nissan announced Thursday that it will reveal the new 2020 Versa at the Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on April 12.While the teaser photo and video hint at the introduction happening on or at least near the beach, there are few other clues about the 2020 Nissan Versa. The company says only that the sedan has been “completely redesigned,” signaling an all-new model rather than a refresh of the existing Versa. Share your voice Post a comment 2019 Nissan Murano looks different, but feels right 2020 BMW M340i review: A dash of M makes everything better Apr 19 • Check out the gory details in Honda’s IIHS crash-tested HR-V Sedanslast_img read more