An innovative project aimed at reducing rural poverty and household food insecurity will be launched on November 19 in Liberia MONROVIA, Liberia, November 18, 2013/ -- An innovative project aimed at reducing rural poverty and household food insecurity will be launched on November 19 in Monrovia. The Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC) project is jointly financed by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) (http://www.gafspfund.org) and the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (http://www.afdb.org). SAPEC project is managed and administered by the AfDB. The four-day event, to be launched by the Vice-President of the Republic of Liberia, Joseph N. Boakai, will bring together around 200 participants, including Government officials, Members of Parliament and the Senate, representatives from the donor community, agriculture organizations as well as farmers’ associations and beneficiaries from similar projects. The SAPEC project will increase income for smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs particularly women, youths and the physically-challenged, thus empowering the rural communities and setting the scene for a transformation of agriculture from subsistence activities into revenue-generating business. “We are excited that GAFSP’s contribution will enable Liberia to rebuild and implement their own food and agricultural strategy, which we believe will have a huge, sustainable impact on the livelihoods of smallholders around the country,” said Geeta Sethi, Program Manager, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. “This project will help Liberia set an example for other post-conflict countries on how to build a food secure, stable state with a vibrant agricultural sector that contributes to economic growth, increased incomes, and food and nutrition security, and poverty reduction. Congratulations to Liberia,” she said. “Indeed, the SAPEC addresses Liberia’s fragility following 14 years of civil conflict that devastated the economy, decimated institutions, destroyed infrastructure and triggered massive rural-urban migration,” said Chiji Ojukwu, Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industry, AfDB. He further highlighted that “the project promotes pro-poor growth by investing in smallholder agriculture to reduce food insecurity, and fosters equity and inclusiveness by ensuring the participation of women, youth and the physically-challenged in agricultural activities. The SAPEC project thus contributes to the peace- and state-building goals of the country as it transitions from conflict and fragility to recovery and resilience.” The project is expected to improve the food value chain through market development and access through the rehabilitation of 270 km of all-weather feeder roads. Twelve market centres are also expected to be rehabilitated, nine agribusiness centres constructed and three technology transfer centres refurbished. The project will also increase the productivity of 4,000 ha and 1,000 ha of uplands that will be dedicated respectively to cassava and rice cultivation. The project will also make more land and water available for cropping with the rehabilitation of 1,000 ha of community-owned lowland. GAFSP is a global effort to aid vulnerable populations afflicted by hunger and poverty. It takes up where emergency and recovery assistance leaves off, targeting transformative and lasting change in agriculture and food security within poor countries. Following commitments by G8 leaders at the L’Aquila Summit in July 2009 and reaffirmed by the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009, GAFSP was established in April 2010. To date, GAFSP expects to improve the incomes and food security of over 10 million beneficiaries, mainly smallholder farmers and their families and has allocated $912 million in grant funds to 25 countries and $50 million in financing packages to agribusinesses. The World Bank manages the public sector part of the program and IFC manages the GAFSP private sector window. For more information, visit http://www.gafspfund.org. For the AfDB, strengthening agriculture and food security through an integrated value chain approach can improve the livelihoods of Africans who live in rural areas. By continuing to invest in rural infrastructure (such as rural roads, irrigation, electricity, storage facilities, access to markets, conservation systems and supply networks), the AfDB will help countries increase agricultural productivity and competitiveness. By investing in regional infrastructure and engaging in policy dialogue to remove trade barriers to importing food and inputs such as fertilizers, it will help restrict food price volatility and reduce food insecurity.