Liberia: Boakai Promises Agricultural Reforms

Former Vice President Joseph Boakai.
Former Vice President Joseph Boakai.

The former Vice President of Liberia and Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, Joseph Nyumah Bokai, said he will transform agriculture to improve the lives of the citizens if elected as president.

President George M. Weah has since pronounced agriculture a priority for his administration, but the public budget for the sector remains very limited.

Smallholder farmers still struggle to access more assistance to improve farm productivity as funding attracted by the government from external sources is just not reaching many of them.

According to Boakai, as part of his plans to transform agriculture, he will prioritize the improvement of farm to market roads within the first 100 days of his leadership so as to get more food to the urban markets to reduce hikes in the price of local commodities.

He said such an action would minimize the economic hardship rural people are encountering.

However, he did not mention how much money his administration will have in the national budget.

I will make sure that I improve the road condition of our people in the interior within the first 100 days of my administration. This will help to reduce food prices on the local markets and make rural people have money to support their families,” he said.

The former Vice President made the statement yesterday when interviewed on a local radio station.

Liberians are experiencing a shock at the hike in food prices, particularly their staple food, rice. There is still a rice shortage on the market due to the government’s inability to subsidize rice imports.

Boakai said during the interview that it was unfortunate to find out that the citizens could go through such a situation. He said that the rice issue violates the rights of the Liberian people.

Access to food is the fundamental right of the Liberian people. Within the first 100 days in office, I will make sure no vehicle gets stuck in the mud. The bad road conditions are increasing the hike in the price of food. I will make sure that every part of this country is accessible by roads to make people move about.

Boakai is on record as mentioning roads as a priority during his campaign for the 2017 elections, where his party was defeated. In many instances, he talks about roads as a priority agenda item.

The issue with food production is tied to people being unable to move about. Sanitation and health is tied to all the road issues. We shall improve the road congestion to encourage investors in the country. This is going to restore the hope of the people.

The UP Standard Bearer criticizes the Weah’s government road agenda, stating that it lacks proper planning.

I know that the President claims that he is doing well in the area of roads. But those roads that are being constructed don’t connect other communities. In fact his road agenda just makes things difficult for people to move about,” he said.

Boakai stated that under the administration of President Weah, the Liberian people are miserably suffering.

I want the President to make sure that he improves the lives of the people. He knows the history of this country when it comes to the issue of rice. He must make sure that the people have access to food,” he reiterated.

He said that though he has been criticized for his intention to remain in the race, his primary reason to contest the presidency is to liberate the Liberian people.

Boaka described the ascendancy of President Weah as a mistake done by the citizens.

This country needs to be liberated as we don’t just go to public office to please ourselves. We are sending a message of hope to the people because they made a mistake during the last election. Liberians are truly suffering.”

Though the former Vice President boasts that would transform agriculture, some Liberians still do not believe in his ability to do so because he works under an administration that performs poorly in the area of agriculture. Many of the projects implemented were not sustainable.

The Unity Party led administration attracted a lot of donors funding for agriculture yet the nation for decades yet to feed itself. But Boakai argued that Liberians need not to blame him for the many failures of the government when serving as vice president because he was not in the driving seat.

He said he has a proven record for boosting agriculture and if elected he is going to do more.

When I was managing director for LPMC we made sure that no rice went to Lofa. Right now I am working with women in Lofa County in swamp rice production. All that the farmers need is empowerment, as they are not going to go back to the soil by brushing and cutting with hoes and cutlasses. There are a lot of lowlands that can be developed in this country if only we empower the farmers,” he asserted.

According to Boakai he is the only person as vice president who has done extremely well in the area of agriculture.

“I used to mill rice before and sent them to Monrovia. I am the only person sitting here who has had it all in agriculture. I have managed oil palm and coffee and milling the process products to Monrovia. I transfer more products of agriculture than any other person. This is something many people don’t know but only say that I have no proven record for agriculture,” he added.

Boakai emphasized that under the administration of President Weah the agricultural programs are not working accordingly.

The agriculture programs are not working and the people are suffering. The people can even sell their commodities in Liberia; they have to go to Guinea and Sierra Leone to sell,” he mentioned.

He said that for the government to obtain quality education there must be good trained teachers and good facilities.

The investment in education is important in making sure that we have quality education. There are schools that still don’t have laboratories. There is going to be no compromise when it comes to the improvement of education,” he stated.

The Unity Party Standard said that the youth need the environment to learn.

Young people need to be educated in vocational education. We have to make sure that our young people are equipped to improve their living conditions,

According to him he is working to partner with investors to create the necessary opportunities for the young people, but such effort is something that has not been embraced by the Weah government.

The government is not helping the young people as many of them are employed in areas where they are not qualified. We need to make sure that the youth have the opportunity, something my administration will not compromise,” he further said.

Source: Liberian Observer

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