LAUNCHING ADDRESS Delivered By Honorable Joseph N. Boakai, Sr. Vice President of the Republic of Liberia At the Official Launch of the Solidaridad Network Organization in Liberia

  • LAUNCHING ADDRESS Delivered By Honorable Joseph N. Boakai, Sr. Vice President of the Republic of Liberia At the Official Launch of the Solidaridad Network Organization in Liberia

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    Wednesday, March 30, 2016

    Honorable Members of the National Legislature Present,

    Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, Governance Commission and former Chairman of the Interim Government of National Unity,

    Representatives of the Donor Community and Distinguished Development Partners of the Government of Liberia,

    Government Ministers Present,

    Staff and friends of Solidaridad,

    The Fourth Estate,

    Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

     

    Good morning,

     

    I feel honored to be with you and to be the one chosen to do the launch of this important undertaking. This indeed speaks of innovation and foresight.

     

    I thank you, Country Representative McArthur M. Pay-Bayee, for this thoughtfulness and such deep commitment to service to country.I never regretted, as Minister of Agriculture, taking you from the Ministry of Planning many years ago and bringing you to Agriculture.

     

    As I took time off to apprise myself with the work of the Solidaridad Network across five of the seven continents of the world, I have come to appreciate that its activities are largely streamlined with Liberia’s National Agenda for Transformation.  It aims at supporting a core pillar—Accelerated Agricultural Modernization and Natural Resource Management–in our Medium Term Development Framework. And this is in tandem with the Food and Agriculture Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture.

     

    I am also delighted to know that through its supply chain development work, the Solidaridad Network is strategically positioned to support countries where it is operational to achieve the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

     

    As one with such deep interest in and passion for Agriculture–one person who keeps in the business of championing agricultural growth and development, I sure welcome all endeavors that bear the potential to thrust our country towards food security.

     

    That is a commitment that should be a common ground for all well-meaning Liberians, for this is the only way to ensuring sustainable production and consumption.

     

    Let me therefore set off by registering my joy that Solidaridad finally reached the conclusion that Liberia engenders growth potentials and that its programs can benefit the people of this country, particularly considering the fact that our people have experienced some of the worst human calamities during the last three decades.

     

    This really goes to emphasize the fact that Liberia is, indeed, a part of the comity of nations and can play its roles in enhancing peace and stability that humanity so desperately craves for. It is therefore an exciting feeling that dawns on me, as the Vice President of this country, even as I address you and launch the Solidaridad Network Programs in Liberia this morning.

     

    The leadership and partners of this highly recognized development Organization can be assured that Liberians will forever extend to our guests the reputed generosity and courtesies that have made Liberia unique among nations.

     

    I take this opportunity to formally welcome Solidaridad to Liberia with that enduring and unflinching hope that Solidaridad is here to stay. You have our assurance that we will do everything within our sphere of influence to ensure its success.

     

    Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

     

    We are undeniably aware that our planet is burdened with many development challenges. While the focus, intensity and geographical spread of these problems vary from one continent or country to the other, a few generic ones do affect all. A case in point is the phenomenal climate change.

     

    No country or continent is immune from the effects of this global phenomenon. Its consequences make such impact on the environment and production systems, population growth, dwindling resources, energy deficits and hazards associated with fossil fuels.

     

    All too well known to us are impacts of war, disease outbreaks and crime on our already marginalized and vulnerable populations. The disproportionate impact of these challenges makes Africa even the worst hit.

     

    To cite an example, despite the importance of agriculture and the continent’s endowment with much of what food production requires, Africa today continues to witness food crisis and hunger. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s statistics indicate that food imports to Africa exceed $3 billion US dollars per annum.

     

    The economic, social and political cost of the food crisis is high and poses significant threats to the economic gains that African countries have achieved over the past three decades. To date, in Africa over 300 million people live on less than a dollar per day and many are at risk of sinking deeper into poverty.

     

    The already difficult challenge of Africa to produce enough food to feed itself is exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, which among other things, reduce precipitation and increase temperatures. Cereal yields in Africa are a quarter of the global average. Indeed the low performance of agriculture in Africa is at the heart of its slow economic growth.

     

    We posit this example to help crystalize the point that the world needs to look at adopting sustainable production and consumption practices across all commodities in our effort to counterbalance some – if not all – the daunting global development challenges and their associated impacts on society and people.

     

    The grim realization of this fact partly bespeaks the need for developing well-focused and sustainable approaches to development – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs set a guiding framework for all development stakeholders to benchmark their development interventions.

     

    I am happy therefore that Solidaridad Network has recognized Liberia’s need to form a part of these efforts and has come to partner with us.

     

    Esteemed Compatriots, Partners, and Friends,

     

    As I alluded to earlier, the sustainability agenda that Solidaridad seeks to address in various agricultural supply chains are of special interest to me, having been down that road in my youthful years and even now.

     

    The imperative for addressing growing demand for food, energy and fiber against an ever growing world population within the context of dwindling natural resources that our planet can offer, has engaged the attention of all governments globally.

     

    This may have informed the re-thinking of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) to the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for which both governments and the private sector need to partner and address.

     

    In my anxiety to learn more about this organization, I have read of the great work Solidaridad has done in other countries in partnering with many licensed cocoa buying companies (LBCs). In this the enterprise targets developing the requisite capacity among farmers and their groups to deliver certified cocoa to the industry in Europe and other cocoa processing countries.

     

    In Ghana, I have learned of the great work Solidaridad has done in partnering with Ghana Cocobod in training all middle level manpower of the Board in Certification Systems to facilitate a better working understanding of Certification by the regulators’ staff.Beyond certification, I have also been made aware of the other projects that Solidaridad is undertaking in the cocoa sub-sector, namely;

     

    • Promoting youth involvement in cocoa,

     

    • Piloting cocoa Rural Service Centers (RSC) as an institutional vehicle for farmers to access production services, and

     

    • Support as, Co-Chair, the National Public-Private Partnership for Cocoa Extension.

     

    In my mind, all of these are possible in Liberia and only need the commitment of all of us and support of the national Government.

     

    On five continents, the Solidaridad Network is playing a key role in the development of markets and integration of smallholder producers in Coffee, Cocoa, Sugar, Cotton, Soy and Oil Palm etc. in different economies.

     

    This has resulted in the increased supply of these commodities and, in some specific cases, led to the validation of a set of voluntary standards to regulate production of specific commodities. The models being used to achieve such successes need to be studied and adapted to other commodities here in Liberia. This is why I am so thrilled at the arrival of Solidaridad on our shores.

     

    As I close, I would like to assure all the development partners here present, that the Government of Liberia is committed to partnering with the civil society to implement our transformational agenda for a better Liberia. I have no doubt that since Solidaridad operates in several other countries, the very mandate of these governments is such that they would like to seek partnership with the development community and civil society.

     

    All this goes to help address the needed socio economic needs of their respective countries. Liberia is therefore not alone in the search for development partners and establishing a platform that ensures sustainability.

     

    Indulge me therefore to implore the development investors at this launch to positively engage Solidaridad—even beyond this inauguration–to explore partnerships that would help in realizing the noble vision of the Organization. We surely need all hands on deck in this drive to foster sustainable development goals that will help move this country forward.

     

    On that note—and with great faith and hope in the great potential of Solidaridad to impact the lives of our people–I do hereby declare this worthy effort, Solidaridad Liberia, officially LAUNCHED on this 30th day of March, 2016, in the City of Paynesville, Republic of Liberia.

     

    We welcome you Solidaridad! May God abundantly prove this decision of yours as wise and continue to bless us all!

     

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