The Republic of Liberia and the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed two agreements today to finance the Tree Crops Extension Project (TCEP) and the Rural Community Finance Project (RCFP), initiatives that will boost farmers’ income, generate much needed foreign exchange, and contribute more broadly to the country’s post-Ebola recovery. The two projects will directly target 35,000 smallholder farmers.

The total investment for the two projects amounts to US $41.6 million, which includes two IFAD loans totalling $18.5 million, both granted on highly concessional terms, and a $5 million IFAD grant.

The government of Liberia is seeking co-financing of $9 million from other donors to fund the remainder.

The two financing agreements were signed in Rome by Moses Zinnah, Minister for Agriculture of the Republic of Liberia, and by Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.

During Liberia’s civil war, the tree crop sector, one of the biggest employment sectors, was devastated and many farmers were displaced from their land.

The government of Liberia was slowly recovering from this situation when the outbreak of the Ebola virus began threatening post-war gains and severely impacting the economy and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

Once implemented, the TCEP will benefit 11,000 stakeholders in the cocoa value chain. TCEP will help farmers grow, process and market the cocoa with the participation of the private sector. At the same time, the new project will strengthen their resilience to the effects of climate change. A 200-kilometre network of roads from farm to market will also be rehabilitated in the project area.

The RCFP will facilitate the creation of new Rural Community Financial Institutions in selected areas throughout the country. It will enhance access to sustainable, diversified and affordable finance services in small and often very isolated rural communities.

“These two new interventions are fully aligned with and strongly support the Government of Liberia’s prioritisation of both structural investment for long-term economic growth and the post-Ebola recovery process,” said Ndaya Beltchika, IFAD Country Programme Manager for Liberia.

“Within its mandate, IFAD is fully committed to accompany and support the recovery of rural communities in Liberia as well as in the other member-countries affected by the Ebola epidemic.”

Since 1981, IFAD has invested a total of $61.9 million in 6 programmes and projects in Liberia. This has generated a total investment of $117.2 million, benefiting some 156,600 rural households.