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Liberia gets $3.7m World Bank funding to boost fishery sector

The World Bank Group and the Government of Liberia have signed a US$3.7 million agreement to industrialize` the fishery sector so that it generates more revenue and reduce poverty among the local population.The agreement tilled “Letter of Agreement between the International Development Association (IDA) for a Project Preparatory Advance (PPA)”, will facilitate the rehabilitation and expansion of the Mesurado fishing pier into an industrialized fishing port that will contain a processing facility to add value to products, as well as lead to the construction of landing jetties in coastal counties.

The World Bank Group is one of Liberia’s leading development partners helping the government to achieve its economic potential through the local fishing industry that has suffered significant setback for decades as a result of lack of financial, technical, and infrastructural know-how.

The US$3.7 million agreement was signed Tuesday in Monrovia at the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning with Finance Minister Samuel Tweah signing for the government, while Dr. Khwima Nthara, World Bank-Liberia Country Manager, signed for the multilateral financial institution.

Dr. Nthara expressed confidence that with proper governance and careful planning the local fishery sector could generate significantly greater economic benefit for the country.

“For instance,” he said, “successful efforts to control illegal industrial trawlers within Liberian territorial waters gave confidence to the European Union to sign a five-year partnership agreement on tuna fisheries.”

On his part, Min. Tweah lauded the World Bank for the support it continues to avail to Liberia in the country’s strides to contribute meaningfully to the population as well as install bigger projects of
national interest.

In remarks, NaFAA director general Emma Glassco said the deal is undoubtedly “a big gain for my country!”

At the landing jetties or stations, Glassco pointed out, local fishermen would also have the opportunity to land at comfortable stations where they have access to cold storage facilities and fresh fish markets.

“This is a whole new vision in a fishing sector that has been dormant, overlooked and seen as under-performing,” Glassco added.

NaFAA director general Glassco described the deal as “one of biggest” among several other gains by her institution “in such a short period.”

Liberia is said to be losing huge revenue in the fishery sector because all 71 industrial tuna vessels doing business with Liberia in the country’s waters rather land at fishing ports within the sub-region such as in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Sierra Leone and, by that, Liberia does not take in direct export fees.

The West African nation also has been lacking the capacity to process harvested fishes. But, now, the new deal could be a game changer.

“I’m so excited! There were back-and-forth negotiations, long travels up-and-down; we had to present several documents to the World Bank as justification that this sector has the potential for growth. And today we are here; we are where we’re at,” said the fishery boss with ecstasy.

Madam Glassco retrospected on Liberia’s rich fishery history which, she said, was graded by the World Bank as exporting shrimps to Japan and the United States of America and generated an annual revenue of US$40 million in the 1970s.

She then hoped the country can get back on par to compete, first, with counterparts in the Mano River basin, and then in the ECOWAS region.

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