- 07 Nov
Graduation Address Delivered by Honorable Joseph NyumaBoakai, Sr. Vice President of the Republic of Liberia at the At the Graduation Ceremony of the Klay Agricultural and Vocational Training Center (KAVT)
Klay, Bomi County
Friday, November 4, 2016
Honorable Morris Saytumah, Senator of Bomi County, and Other Members of the National Legislature Present;
Minister Saah C. N’Tow of the Ministry of Youth & Sports;
Other Officials of the Ministry of Youth and Sports;
Superintendent Brown and other officials of the County;
Director Frederick Massaquoi of the Klay Agricultural & Vocational Training Center and Your Hard Working staff;
President of the Graduating and Promising Class of the Next Breed of Agriculturists;
Members of the Fourth Estate;
My Fellow Citizens:
It is always for me such pleasure whenever I am invited to speak at events involving the youth of this country. It is most especially so considering an event of this critically important nature–an agriculture training program—which consumes my interest for several reasons.
Mr. Minister, thank you for the kind invitation to be in your midst this afternoon in hopes of inspiring these radiant and promising products of your Institution. Be assured that you are on career track that is the best. I say this with all sincerity and against the background of my own knowledge and experience.
As I have said on previous occasions, let me reiterate my unchanging conclusion that the future of the country lies in agriculture. Why do I say that? Well, as some of you know, my service to Liberia in earnest began in this field.
Back in the 70s, I served as Resident Manager of the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) Estate in Voinjama, in my County, Lofa. Later I rose to become the first Liberian Managing Director of the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC). Then later in my service career to this country I became Minister of Agriculture in the mid-1980s.
So, agriculture has helped to shape and inform my disposition that agriculture presents the best option for us to diversify our economy; strengthen our food security; and create a wide range of jobs for our young people.
And so I am happy to see a number of young Liberians from several parts of our country taking advantage of available opportunities provided by government to acquire training in several agriculture-related vocations.
According to a July 2016 report of the country’s Commercial Guide, the agricultural sector holds the greatest potential for employment and it is the primary livelihood source for more than 60 percent of Liberia’s population.
Agriculture is also the most significant sector of the local economy providing sustenance for many families who engage in farming of rubber, rice, oil palm, cocoa, and sugarcane at smallholder and subsistence levels.
The sector plays an integral role in Liberia’s economic and social development as it contributes significantly to employment, food security, household income, poverty reduction and foreign exchange. And so I personally encourage you to continue in this noble and critically relevant pursuits.
We do have a suitable climate for horticulture such as production of peppers, okra, onions, tomatoes, bitter balls, etc., which are in high demand throughout the country all year round.
There is also a high demand for chicken eggs, wings, feet and its many parts. We have the market but we have opted to import them. I learned that your small poultry program on this campus produces a lot of eggs and layers. We are also working with women who can hardly produce enough eggs for the market. The opportunities abound for the production of feeds for the poultry industry which is in huge demand.
We have to take advantage of those wonderful things that God has blessed us with and make them work for the benefit of our prosperity. We need not prod you to grasp the wisdom in getting these agricultural producers to engage the local markets, getting their wares out during market days in their surroundings. They should not indulge in just sitting on the tomatoes, eggplants and vegetables that are being produced here.
Let us guide them to the market and create a niche. By so doing, we will have this Training Center go down on record as affording a blend of business development and agriculture training. Lo behold, Agribusiness is the new calling!
To the students, our graduates, and the many would-be students who happen to be under my voice here this afternoon, let me state clearly that there is absolutely no doubt that this Government acknowledges the dire need for increased skills training.
We are at a critical stage where we must increase our efforts to find innovative solutions in solving the skills deficit bedevilling our youthful population. Imagine, over 75% of the population is below 35years. We have a very young population that should be enterprising. A significant number of the 79% of the population should be provided the required technical training to allow us achieve a middle-income status as conceived under Vision for Transformation 2030.
Our system for over a century shows not to have been born out of a sound analysis of the socio-economic system. It advanced—and continues to advance–a different structure and output whilst those who are the direct consumers–the industries–are demanding something else.
Our vision is to correct this anomaly. An impactful shift will not occur unless a wider social transformation takes place where students, mainly young people, tailor their career goals to be in tandem with the demand side. If it is pepper, tomato, eggs, chicken feet, wings, tilapia or croaker, the people want to eat, then we should have technicians available and capable to deliver these wants, especially if they have the purchasing power to secure them.
This Government has embarked on the process of opening these schools, tuition free, no payment of fees for feeding and lodging to assist in achieving that dream. Like the Klay Agricultural and Vocational Training Center, we will soon open the TUMUTU Agricultural and Vocational Training in Salala, Bong County, to young people hailing from that stretch of our region spanning Bong, Margibi, Lofa and Nimba counties.
By mid-2017, another center is to be opened in Grand Kru to cater to students in that Southeastern Region of the country. The Panama Agricultural and Vocational Training Center in Sinoe County will also be reactivated and made operational to buttress these training efforts in that Region.
I need not point out that these moves evidence our awareness of our responsibility to create the needed opportunities for our youth. The young people are left with theirs to take due advantage and transform their own lives.
Mr. Minister, Mr. Director, other Officials of the Ministry of Youth and Sports;
I want to extend specific thanks for the quality of work done up here with the limited resources. This is a demonstration that a lot can be done if more support is extended to you and your team.
To you the students and your distinguished parents, I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation for the level of discipline and tenacity exhibited by you in the course of your sojourn here.
Let me close my lauding the sustained courage of parents and guardians in pushing you to reach this finish line today. I know they had to neglect a lot of other pleasantries to focus time and resources on your upkeep and guidance here.
You all deserve the highest of commendations and the best wishes that you reap the benefits of what you have so tirelessly sown. This is a worthwhile venture and you certainly will be proud of yourselves forever.
Thanks again for inviting me to the KAVTC campus.