The African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), has recently held a one-day validation workshop study in an effort to improve Liberia’s Cocoa production.

ACET is actively working with CSOs such as the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), the Center for Policy Action and Research (CePAR), the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG) and the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture on a year-long study titled “Regional Collaboration on Overcoming Binding Constraints on the Growth of Liberia’s Cocoa Value Chain.”

The initiative will allow for an examination of the whole country to identify and address the challenges facing the Liberian Cocoa value chain and draw comparisons with best practices and success stories across Africa and beyond. In addition, it will enable the participating organisations to make recommendations on how to utilise the country’s available opportunities in the sector.

The study is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Liberia Economic Policy Dialogue Activity project (LEPDA), four-year technical assistance, capacity development and grants project that aims to foster self-reliance by encouraging private sector-led economic expansion in Liberia.

Dr Julius Gatune, Lead Researcher at ACET, discussed the expected outcome of the study, which was conducted in the Cocoa-growing counties of Liberia – Bong, Lofa and Nimba:

It is our expectation that the findings of this study will provide key policy lessons for reforms that target farmers and women in the Cocoa industry in Liberia, and improve policy engagement between the Liberian government and the citizenry.

Dr Julius Gatune, Lead Researcher, ACET

The ongoing study will also include a Political Economy Analysis (PEA) in support of the development of policy advocacy. This element is crucial for the uptaking and actioning of recommendations by the Government of Liberia, said Gatune.

According to Joe-Hoover Gbadyu, Senior Economic Policy Specialist at USAID, the study’s initial report identified innovations that could be domesticated by leveraging partnerships with key stakeholders and sharing regional knowledge.

Among them are solutions for first-mile transport problems, access to inputs, financial inclusion, storage and markets. Clemenceau B. Urey, President of the Atlantic Cocoa Exporting and Processing Company, said that the issue of finance is particularly challenging for Cocoa exporters:

Build the structure, let financial institutions give out loans, not the one with a high percentage.

Clemenceau B. Urey, Atlantic Cocoa Exporting and Processing Company, President

Policy recommendations were also outlined in the initial report, with the intention to catalyse and scale the innovations. The recommendations were discussed and approved by stakeholders during the validation workshop.

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