In Liberia, tropical forests cover almost 43% of the territory. It is therefore hardly surprising that only 28% of all Liberian land is cultivated.
Before the two civil wars in Liberia in the 1990s and early 2000s, the agro-industry was the largest employer after the State, and more than half of the workforce was engaged in agriculture.
Today, the shortage and high cost of energy, the lack of roads in certain areas, the poor overall condition of the tracks and the lack of skilled labor are all obstacles to project development.
In 2005, Liberia became the first African country to democratically elect a woman as its head of state. Its capital, Monrovia, and most of the country’s economic infrastructure were devastated by the civil wars, and its population is among the poorest in the world. Nevertheless, an agricultural policy was developed to ensure quality staple food for all Liberians. Diversification and market adaptation strategies were implemented and have led to an increase in competitiveness.
Today, private companies are playing a key role in boosting the various agro-industrial and mining sectors, which occupy an important place in Liberia. In addition, in early 2013, the International Chamber of Commerce initiated a study (integrating government ministries and economic actors) aimed at improving Liberia’s agricultural sectors and smallholder situation.
Liberia is currently facing a growing palm oil shortage, to the extent that it is forced to import Asian palm oil. This situation encourages the country to focus more on developing its oil palm sector. This explains why several large-scale projects will soon be emerging in this sector.
Today, palm oil production represents 10.2% of Liberia’s agricultural production and ensures better living standards for more than 29 000 families.
Liberia’s main agro-industrial activity, rubber cultivation, is largely controlled by 3 operators. Most rubber is produced by the agro-industry, as no sectorial support or promotion plan was launched in favor of smallholder development. Rubber cultivation accounts for 17.3% of Liberia’s agricultural production and rubber is also its main export crop.
As an important catalyst for development in remote areas, rubber cultivation also enables the production of pure green energy: natural rubber is a substitute for synthetic rubber (a petroleum distillation product) and serves as a significant carbon sink.