June 14, 2018. In an effort to enable sustainable palm oil production in Liberia, the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and Conservation International launched the Good Growth Partnership in Monrovia.
The Partnership, supported by the Global Environment Facility and led by the UNDP’s Green Commodities Programme, is designed to tackle the root causes of deforestation and environmental degradation driven by agricultural commodities. At an international level the Partnership is working with majors banks, brands and traders to shift demand for more sustainable commodity production in countries like Liberia.
In the spirit of the Partnership’s cross-sectorial and multi-stakeholder supply chain approach, a diverse range of actors including local farmers, civil society groups, companies and government entities attended the launch event.
Speaking at the launch, Agriculture Minister, Mogana Flomo emphasized the government’s commitment to work with all partners involved in the project and ensure that Liberia’s pristine forests are protected as the country moves to improve livelihoods and the economy.
“This is a very great initiative that the Government of Liberia, led by President George Manneh Weah, is in support of. We believe that this is going to support the pro-poor agenda, because it has to do with changing the lives of the common people, and lifting them to a new level where they can raise money from oil palm production,” said the Minister.
“This is a very great initiative that the Government of Liberia, led by President George Manneh Weah, is in support of.”
Mogana Flomo, Liberian Agriculture Minister
(From left) Liberian Agriculture Minister, Mogana Flomo, speaks at the Partnership launch event; partners from the Government of Liberia, UNDP and Conservation International celebrate the launch of the Partnership in Liberia; village residents in rural Liberia © Conservation International/photo by Mike Matarasso.
UNDP-Liberia Country Director, Pa Lamin Beyai, stated that “the launch is meant to bring together the main stakeholders in the agricultural sector as well as finance, the private sector and CSOs to develop the National Oil Palm Strategy and Action Plan.” This strategy will provide a road map to guide investments and activities for sustainable oil palm cultivation in Liberia. The Country Director said that the Good Growth Partnership provides systemic solutions through interventions that will improve food security and conserve the country’s forests.
Conservation International Country Director, Jessica Donovan, acknowledged the importance of the Partnership, stressing that, “the Partnership will benefit many Liberians without mortgaging the country’s ecosystems.”
“The Partnership will benefit many Liberians without mortgaging the country’s ecosystems.”
Jessica Donovan, Conservation International Country Director
The Good Growth Partnership Liberia pilot is a four-year initiative with a focus on four biodiverse counties in West Liberia. The initiative works at the national level, led by UNDP, and at the landscape level managed by Conservation International.
Touted as the next “palm oil frontier,” Liberia boasts fertile soil, a tropical climate, uncultivated land and high-levels of rainfall. Projected to provide thousands of jobs for a nation with over 1 million people living in extreme poverty, palm oil promises to offer Liberia a welcome economic break.
However without effective management and oversight of the burgeoning palm oil industry, Liberia risks destroying vast primary forests along with critical natural resources and the benefits they provide to the communities who depend on them.
Furthermore without genuine consultation, involvement and consideration for local communities who live and survive on areas designated for palm oil development, a climate of conflict and exploitation threatens to ensue. An estimated 70 percent of Liberians depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and many are not convinced that the economic palm oil boon will benefit them. The United Nations has identified land and property conflict in Liberia as a serious threat to the country’s peace and development.
Technical support for the Oil Palm Technical Working Group (OPTWG) is central to the Good Growth Partnership’s efforts in Liberia. This existing national platform will be strengthened with neutral facilitation and expanded with cross-sectorial membership especially from local communities and farmers. Currently the Ministry of Agriculture leads the national platform with the expectation that inter-ministerial cooperation and participation will be increased. Ultimately, decisions and actions agreed on within the working groups will be included in the National Oil Palm Strategy and Action Plan.
Other efforts include technical support to legally define high conservation value (HCV) and high carbon stock (HCS) to direct development toward areas of lower environmental value as well as an initiative that models and trials incentives for effective long-term conservation agreements with local communities.