“The Transformation of our Agricultural Sector Needs not to Undermine our Traditional Systems. It Should Enhance Them” — H.E. Jeanine Milly Cooper, Liberia Agri Minister

Liberia’s Minister of Agriculture, Her Excellency Jeanine Milly Cooper, has called for a tailored, conceptualized and comprehensive speech when it comes to agricultural transformation and climate smart agriculture, in Africa.

H.E. Jeanine Milly Cooper made the call at the opening ceremony of the Science and Partnerships for Agriculture Conference (SPAC), which opened in Accra, Ghana, on September 14, 2022, for three days.  

For the Liberian policymaker, if the transformation of African agriculture remains possible, to achieve it, we must first take stock, not only of the challenges, certainly overwhelming, but also of the assets that the continent has and capitalize on them.

In order to succeed in the mission and avoid the agriculture to be deadlocked, the authority calls for “looking at the best enablers and catalysts for our agriculture transformation.”

Agricultural systems are now focusing on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) as the most favorable way out.

The Liberian Minister of Agriculture, nonetheless, invited stakeholders to contextualize the very notion of CSA and adapt it to African realities.

“How much do we have to change the way we do agriculture to be climate smart?” wonders actually H.E. Jeanine Milly Cooper.

Taking the example of her country, which she believes is adapted to most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Minister believes that some AIC solutions, particularly in Western countries, are not adapted to African realities.

For instance, while the European Union is talking about increasing the rate of family farms from 7% to 25%, the equivalent in Africa is the smallholders and that is the majority of agricultural producers. 

On the other hand, while commercial agriculture has grown in Western countries thanks to heavy mechanization and massive use of fertilizers and chemicals, Africa is still at a very low rate of fertilizer use and mechanization.

“For us, the transformation of our agriculture sector need not undermine our traditional systems. It should enhance them,” says H.E. Jeanine Milly Cooper. 

“We can’t afford for CSA to be anecdotal for us. Our lives depend on the kind of transformation we can make happen in our agrifood systems.”

Mechanization that is adapted to the sizes of the farms and the topography of the countries, that simultaneously addresses the problem of youth unemployment and women’s disempowerment, solutions that ease the burden on women and improve their livelihoods, and digitization of processes that attracts more youth, are among others, climate-smart solutions for Africa, according to the expert. 

“We have to deploy and employ the best research now. We have to pilot the innovations. We have to have to try out the good ideas. And keep looking to improve our triple bottomline of people, planet and prosperity,” the Minister said.

SPAC is organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the Member organizations of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme Ex-Pillar 4 (CAADP-XP4), in collaboration with the Government of Ghana and several other partners and donors.

Bringing together more than participants, it seeks to address African agricultural production and productivity challenges, with a paramount focus on climate change.

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