Introduction: The one-day inception workshop/Program launch concept note was developed, by Gelboikai Abu Keita (NPIS) cleared and approved by The OiC Mrs. Ajmal, Mehnaz. In attendance, were thirty-nine (39) participants comprising of implementing partners (Ministry of Agriculture & University of Liberia) and stakeholders. Considering all important key players in soil activities Nationwide and potential beneficiaries. Including Journalists. Logistics and Finances were provided by FAO The budget holder.
The program was slated for the 18th of August and the venue was Corina Hotel, the program commenced at 9:30 am and lasted to 1:15 pm as intended to run for four (4) hours. A draft copy of the invitation letters was shared with The Ministry of Agriculture for distribution.
Objectives: The workshop had an expected outcome, which was in line with the overall goal of the project but most precisely what was adopted is as follows:
- Identification of colleagues with their institutional roles names and professional titles for later group formation.
- Overview of the project and how much work have been done and the current status of the implantations activities.
- Limitations and corrections on related soil journals on Liberia documents in the past
- Roles of stakeholders.
- Selection or nominations of technical staff for field activities and laboratory training
Report on Itinerary: The workshop commenced at 9:00 am with the arrival of guests, Registrations, and breakfast and was called to order by Miss Florence Dorley, National Forestry, and Natural Resource Management Specialist; who was the master of the ceremony and did the introductory section of the project.
The Deputy Minister for Technical Services, Hon. Leelia Andrews, Ministry of Agriculture was absent but in her absence, the National Project Coordinator (NPC) Mr. Halala Kukolo did the welcome remarks. After which there was a round of self-introduction by all the participants on their names and job titles.
Miss. Florence Dorley did a general recap on the description and introduction of the project, the total budget cost, and the support to the government of Liberia on the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development Goals 8, 11,12,13,15 and the stages of outflow till the end of February 2023.
Gelboikai Abu Keita, The National Implementation Specialist, Delivered a PowerPoint presentation on the Rationale of the project, overview, limitations, Update/ progress report, the scope of operation, and objectives. The various topics were elaborated follow-up with questions and answers and interactions, and some action points were noted.
In addition, the National Project Coordinator, (NPC) Halala Kukulo presented on the roles and expectations from the various stakeholders with the entire projects stages from one to three and reminded that FAO is the donor, while this is just a pilot but provision is been made for the soil sampling that will be done nation-wide to other 14 counties.
Leading the remarks sections of the programme, Mr. Quarbo Head of Programs FAO made a remake on FAO supports to the project explaining other projects that are cross-cutting, he also made emphasis that the TCP is a government catalytic tool and does not exceed certain budget line and willingness of FAO to comply and support the process.
I greet you on behalf of the FAO Representative to Liberia, Ms. Mariatou Njie.
The Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) titled: “Strengthening soil analysis and information system to enhance sustainable soil management and support evidence based decision making in Liberia” being launched today, is directly funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and pillars our approach to the transformation of the food system.
As the foremost priority for our current medium-term development programme – the country programming framework (2020 – 2023), FAO attaches great importance to this intervention that, though meant to be catalytic, would lead to evidence-based decision making in production. Beyond agriculture and food production, however, it is confirmed by the technical experts, that the evidence to be generated from the TCP will also inform all other interventions that concern the use of the soil. Hence, the benefits would be enjoyed by the wider segment, beyond us at this table today.
Foundationed on these, FAO is pleased with the level of support from the government, academia, and hopes to sustain engagements with private sector actors and local communities – the very end users of the product of this TCP.
From the broader development perspective, FAO leads, under Pillar 2 of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, the efforts of the United Nations Country Team to provide the enabling environment that ignite and facilitate more sustainable jobs and economic development. As part of these, we launch a TCP today that support the food system, working from production (soils first, and then seeds, irrigation, tools/technology, good agronomic practices), to processing (storing
and transporting/distribution) and marketing – where thousands of jobs are possible and strengthening of Liberia’s macroeconomic fundamentals rests.
For a whole of a system approach, FAO, also places emphasis on food safety and control, so that handling and preparation are done according to safety standards and that adequate disposal is ensured, upon consumption. Towards this, another technical cooperation programme is ongoing with the government of Liberia, led by the National Standards Lab (Ministry of Commerce), Ministry of Health, National Public Health Institute and the Ministry of Agriculture.
My esteemed GoL colleagues and stakeholders, as these TCPs are meant to initiate efforts that are catalytic, we count on the government of Liberia to ensure that the products are included in its development priorities, so that gains made are sustained when the programme phases out. Similarly, FAO reassures the government of its support to helping make the seed system work – for we have all acknowledged that the food system is from seeds/soil to consumption/waste.
Building on these, FAO is technically leading today, the simultaneous launch of the National Dialogues of the 2021 Food System Summit.
Policymaker, academics, researchers, producers, value chain actors and consumers, our desire to achieve goal two of the SDGs: End Hunger in Liberia will only be possible if our soil selection is informed by evidence and all other good production practices are ensured. This is a start to that, so let’s embrace, own, roll it out, and sustain it.
Land Mines and Energy, Liberia Land Authority, Forestry Development Authority, and Environment Protection Agency were also absent from the workshop.
The University of Liberia, one of our main implementing partners made remarks on their support to make available the laboratory and technicians to support the process with some technical experts. They express excitement for signing the Implementation agreement with FAO Liberia through the deam of college for Agriculture Mr. Leroy W. Cgbe.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, represented by Mr. Ayoubah Fofana assistant Minister also expressed their support through the local authorities of complying with a team of surveyors at the county level through the county superintendent and commended the government and FAO for such a board step.
Liberia Institute of Statistical and Geo-information Services (LISGIS), informed the gathering that currently because of the census survey they may not be fully supported for field work since most of their technical teams are in the field but will wish to play the role of monitoring the process during the fieldwork/ training. This was made by Peter W Kuu, Analyst.
Mr. Harris Yanquoi soil researcher at CARI made their commitment to support with technical staff when need be and as the governmental arm for research activities with expects to play a key role in the entire process.
The county Agriculture Officer of Nimba County has assured us also that their team will be in the field to provide any form of labor services and assist with points on GPS locations.
The event had media coverage of both radio presenters and newspapers carrying the stories of journalists.
At the end of the occasion, Acting Hon. Minister of Agriculture Mr. Roberts K. Fagans did the official Launch of the project, stating the Government of Liberia support to smooth and effective running of the project and can usually count on their assistance and cooperation.
Socialization and launch were done at the end and we all departed.
Recommendations: The purpose of this workshop was to also get feedback on suggestions or addition of input for running the project. In addition to what we had the following was inclusive;
- Soil classifications should be made on USDA Systems and not FAO because it is an outmoded type of use and had limitations
- Private institutions should be included in such training since they form part and take a huge number of the government sector
- Requested for additional 2 banners for MoA entrance and UL laboratory.
- The stipulated amount 5usd should be raised for reimbursement to the attendant
- Requested to share training materials
Conclusions: Based on the recommendations above we will include them as action points for future activities and correct them where necessary as we move along in the training process.