Monrovia – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and other partners have hosted the 4th multi-stakeholders platform workshop on the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and forests in the context of national food security (VGGT).
Giving the Keynote address at the opening of the workshop on Tuesday, August 29 at the Monrovia City Hall, the Deputy Minister for Planning & Development at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Charles McClain disclosed that the Government of Liberia is now adopting new agriculture development policies and strategies that will promote agriculture investment and ensure sustained production and productivity of food; while protecting tenure rights and culture using the VGGT as a guide.
Dr. McClain, speaking on behalf of Agriculture Minister, Seklau Wiles admitted that in the past, investments were made in the agriculture sector with little or no consultation with stakeholders who have tenure rights; something he said resulted to a large number of the population being displaced with no adequate plan to address their plights-either by due compensation or resettlement.
He said this led to a series of conflict between affected communities and investors, thereby making the expansion of land development almost impossible. He however noted that the government has learned from its mistakes and is getting on the right path.
“We have changed from this manner of making investment decisions alone. Our new direction is to promote agriculture investment and implementation in a way consistent with the principle of responsible investment in agriculture. Accordingly we are revisiting our agriculture development policy and strategies with a view to aligning them with international accepted practices,” he averred.
Giving the overview of the workshop, the VGGT Lead Consultant, Dr. Roland Massaquoi outlined that the overarching goals of the Guidelines are to achieve food security for all and support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of National Food Security.
While supporting efforts towards the eradication of hunger and poverty, Dr. Massaquoi noted that the Guidelines are also intended to contribute to achieving sustainable livelihoods, social stability, housing security, rural development, environmental protection and sustainable social and economic development.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Liberia Land Authority, Cecil Brandy intimated that the security of tenure is a fundamental issue that affects productivity of land and the livelihood of individuals who reside on the land.
He said tenure security and responsible governance are essential core elements embedded within the land right policy of Liberia, but will be effectively implemented only when the Land Right Act is passed into law.
“In developing our land right policy, we address head-on the issue of tenure security through the realization and guarantee and ensuring that the community has the right to own land. It is important that we see this law passed,” he urged.
“Because unless this law is passed, there is no guarantee of tenure security, and no investors will put substantial investment on property that they don’t have tenure security for, and that affects productivity in the agriculture sector; especially it affects the livelihood of our poor rural farmers,” he intoned.
Christian Schulze, the FAO’s Natural Resource Management Officer, who proxy for Marc T.B.K. Abdala, FAO Liberia Representative averred that the Guidelines serve as a reference and set out principles and internationally accepted standards for practices for the responsible governance of tenure.
Schulze also noted that the Guidelines provide a framework that the state can use when developing their own strategies, policies, legislation, programs and activities; and at the same time allowing governments, civil society, the private sector and citizens to judge whether the proposed actions of others constitute acceptable practices.
He added that FAO and the government of Germany will continue to support the awareness on the implementation of the VGGT.
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