UNHCR Signs Agreement with FAO
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Liberia have signed an agreement to implement a joint multi-year project until the end of 2005. The project is aimed at providing basic agricultural inputs to war-affected farmers.
The project, called: Liberia Agriculture Reintegration Project (LARP), will be implemented in Lofa, Nimba, Montserrado and Grand Gedeh Counties, which are main areas of return of these refugees.
According to UNHCR’s release, subject to security situation, more counties will be included in the subsequent phases of the program’s implementation. The total cost of the project is US$276,155.
The release said the project is to also enhance the productive capacities of war-affected households by supplying emergency agricultural inputs and training in sustainable and improved agricultural technologies.
Vulnerable farmers, according to the release, will be able to resume their livelihoods - make the transition from dependency on relief aid to self-sufficiency and effectively contribute to the rural economy as well as increasing local food security. The vulnerable farm families, comprising returnees, ex-combatants and host community members in the areas of return will be the main beneficiaries, the release noted.
Priorities will be given to returnees with farmland who have recently arrived or who have not received seeds and tools before.
The program will provide assistance to speed up the process of resettlement of returnees and reintegration, rehabilitation of their farms and resumption of agricultural production. The release indicated that during the period of August to December 2004, 7500 kits of assorted vegetable seeds and tools would be distributed. The distribution will be followed by training session on farming methods and introduction of new technical knowledge for enhanced production.
Meanwhile, Transitional Recovery Teams (TRTs) have already been founded at the county level in Lofa, Nimba and Bong Counties, where additional teams, will be appointed for more counties in the second phase of the project. The TRTs will play an active role in coordination of agricultural activities and facilitate the process of speeding up the recovery process. FAO will provide technical support to ensure that the inputs are of good quality and meet the standard specifications.
The release further noted that in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, FAO, UNHCR sub and field offices in those respective counties and cooperating implementing partner NGOs in the field to monitor project implementation would be crucial. Regular field visits and meetings with beneficiaries, implementing partners and the beneficiary communities will be held to ensure that project implementation is in line with the set objectives.