Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security in Washington DC on Thursday, May 17th, The Honorable Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, explained why she hopes that her country “can become a post conflict success story by building upon our agriculture activities.
After two decades of internal conflict that killed thousands and destroyed the country’s economy, Liberia was “once considered a failed state,” according to Sirleaf. Now, although the nation is still facing challenges that Sirleaf describes as “awesome”—including poverty, lack of infrastructure, and considerable debt— Liberia is on the road to recovery. And Sirleaf believes that is in large part due to a development plan that focuses heavily on agriculture.
Liberia was recently selected to be part of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Threshold Development Program which provides financial support for countries that promote local growth by investing in their own people.
Sirleaf called investment in agriculture the most effective way to “combat poverty” and “create sustainable economic growth” in a country where more than 70 percent of the population depends on farming for food and income. Liberia’s agriculture industry “has the potential to become a major source of employment, most especially for the thousands of our citizens, especially women and youth who, as casualties of the war, lack essential skills, but who can learn to farm the land,” she said.
Agricultural expansion would also protect the country from fluctuating global food prices, which were particularly devastating in Liberia and throughout sub-Saharan Africa in 2007 and 2008.
Read President Sirleaf’s full statement here. To read more about how investment in agriculture can help countries rebuild economies, restore peace, and maintain political stability, see: Women Farmers: An Untapped Solution to Global Hunger, Agriculture Makes the Front Page, Urban Women Grow Food in Sacks, Women Farmers Are Key to Halving Global Hunger by 2015, and Obama Says Teach A Man to Fish.