Monrovia, Liberia - The governments of Liberia and Iceland Friday, December 14, signed a US$3.1million Grant Agreement to support Liberia’s fisheries sector.
The financial support from the Nordic nation according to National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority Director Emma Metieh-Glasco is quite significant and will boost Liberia’s profitability in the sector.
Director Metieh-Glasco said that the project is a major achievement that will develop the country’s first standardized laboratory for testing fish and other cold food products for exports.
She explained that even though the country exports about 200 metric tons of fish annually, the substantial loss had been incurred because the fish had to be routed through Ivory Coast and Ghana as the country did not have access to markets of the European Union and the United States of America. She said the lack of a standardized testing laboratory for fish meant that the country could not certify fish harvested within its waters and neither could it be accredited to have direct access to those Western markets.
Other benefits she outlined that the sector will experience from the project will be improved processing and preservation using modern fish-oven technology, provision of microfinance opportunities to about 2,000 fishermen and fishmongers, as well as supporting water and sanitation projects in Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Grand Cape Mount Counties.
Meanwhile, Finance and Development Planning Minister who signed on behalf of the government of Liberia lauded the government of Iceland for the support and also conveyed enormous gratitude to the government of Iceland for the pace of their response, describing such a response as “optimal model of transformation”.
Minister Tweah emphasized that the country cannot withstand delays in rallying of needed support to the country’s development process which he said had been extraordinarily slow over the last twelve years.
The Finance Minister, during his remarks, also highlighted the vital role of the agricultural sector including fisheries in the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda and added that the government of President George Weah wants to transform the space since, as he put it, “ the majority of our people work in that space”.
With specific reference to the fisheries sector, Minister Tweah mentioned that the country boasts of a big fish reserve but lamented that it has unfortunately remained untapped. He disclosed that the government is hugely interested in deepening bilateral partnerships with countries like Iceland with technical expertise in the sector that can help build capacity and mainstream the private sector in the development of the fisheries sector. He underscored the importance of the private sector in creating jobs and moving Liberians out of poverty.
Speaking on behalf of the four-man Icelandic delegation, Head of Delegation Dr. Pektur Skulason Wladorff expressed delight that his country had found a way to help Liberia in executing its development agenda. He expressed delight that the Grant Agreement was finalized in under a year. He disclosed that the implementation of the project including the training of laboratory technicians will start in January of 2019.