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The Ministry of Agriculture with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has launched the Good Growth Partnership in Monrovia under the theme “Taking Deforestation out of Commodity Supply Chains”.

This Partnership is initiated by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and led by UNDP's Green Commodities Programme. It is designed to tackle the root causes of deforestation from agriculture commodities, specifically palm oil in Liberia.

UNDP Liberia Country Director, Pa Lamin Beyai believes that this project will provide systemic solutions through interventions that will improve food security and conserve the forests.

Dr. Beyai says the agriculture sector is expected to contribute meaningfully to the priorities of poverty reduction, employment, increased personal income and foreign exchange.

“Unfortunately, the contribution of agriculture to national economic growth and development has been limited over recent years by structural constraints, inadequate policies etc. Agriculture including the oil palm sector continues to be a mainstay and is of vital importance for Liberia” intimated Beyai.

The UNDP Boss points out that the Good Growth Partnership financed by the Global Environment Facility’s Integrated Approach Pilot (IAP) program is aimed at promoting collective action for change through a National Oil Palm Strategy & Action Plan and a road map to guide investments and activities and delivers multi-sector coordinated action for sustainable oil palm production.

“Given the strong relationship between growth in agricultural productivity and poverty reduction, future efforts in Liberia need to focus on enhanced productivity and associated measures with a pro-poor focus that increase incomes,” Dr. Beyai notes.

On his part, the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Mogana Flomo, pledged the commitment of the Liberian Government to work with all partners involve in the project, to ensure that Liberia's forests are protected and yield benefits for impoverished Liberians.

“We see the Good Growth Partnership as a very important project that supports the government’s pro-poor development agenda, which strives to change the lives of its people through improved health care, education, job creation and protection of the environment,” emphasizes Minister Flomo.

Under this project, UNDP is poised to work closely with and channel resources through several implementing partners including Conservation International (CI).

CI’s Country Director Jessica Donovan, acknowledged the partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and UNDP, stressing that the project will benefit many Liberians without mortgaging the Country's ecosystems.

Ms. Donovan says her organization is pleased to work with various partners to explore innovative programs that contribute to the reduction of global deforestation and help find practical solutions that would maintain and protect the environment.

The Good Growth Partnership is being implemented in Liberia at a cost of USD 2 million. Key among its activities would include i) building partnerships and increasing dialogue by extending and connecting the national and landscape oil palm platform, ii) supporting the emergence of more effective policy enabling environments and utilizing related enforcement standards and regulations, iii) enhancing systems for farmer support, particularly of smallholders in order to reduce unsustainable practices; and iv) supporting systems for mainstreaming national and global benefits associated with protecting tropical forests into land use planning in areas where forests are currently threatened by oil palm expansion.

At the landscape level the project will focus on promoting sustainable oil palm production in four piloted counties in Western Liberia-Bomi, Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and Bong.

This 4-yr initiative will help make systematic changes to the way oil palm is produced in Liberia, by increasing productivity without expanding into forests.

Transforming this key commodity supply chain has the potential to significantly reduce deforestation and stem climate change. Palm oil production also has the potential to become an engine for rural development by reducing poverty.

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