The United Arab Emirates have agreed to provide $4 million in funding to foster rural development in Liberia in partnership with FAO.
The contribution comes from the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and aims to support 1 500 rural women in three counties with improved and sustainable poultry and vegetable production.
The project, “Promoting increased resilience and sustainable income generation, food security and nutrition for rural women” will be managed by FAO and Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, which plans to provide solar energy solutions to support irrigation, cold storage, mills and other key farming operations.
“At FAO we are very pleased to pilot this Public Private Partnership for women in Liberia with the hope for it to become a successful modality in involving the private sector in development,” said Roberto Ridolfi, Assistant Director-General, Programme Support and Technical Cooperation Department.
On the ground, the project will enable women to grow valuable vegetables and produce poultry products, such as meat and eggs, as well as engage in fish farming. Its design will leverage the use of local initiatives such as Caisses de Resilience, Dimitra clubs – which are geared to empower women – and Farmer Field Schools.
Another aim is to increase crop yields in scalable ways. Improved foundation seed will be used in one major rice-growing area, to which an international and national rice expert will be deployed to build and strengthen the capacity of farmers and district agriculture officers working for Liberia’s Ministry of Agriculture.
Study tours – including trips to successful ventures in Benin and the UAE – will be offered to help scale up and replicate benefits from the project in surrounding areas.
The funds will also contribute to procuring chicks, poultry vaccines, seeds, fertilizer, power tillers, and vehicles for marketing. One aim is to facilitate the establishment of producer groups into cooperatives or marketing associations and in general to boost the capacity of rural women to engage in basic business and entrepreneurship.
In some cases the solutions will be modelled on a “farm in a box” approach using converted container modules.