This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/12/2017

Overview

 

Agriculture is the primary livelihood source for more than 60 percent of Liberia’s population and provides sustenance for many households who engage in farming of rubber, rice, oil palm, cocoa, and sugarcane.  However, low agricultural productivity results in Liberia importing more than 80 percent of its staple food, making the country vulnerable to global food price volatility.  Poorly integrated, the sector lacks basic infrastructure such as machines, farming equipment/tools, farm-to-market roads, fertilizers and pesticides, and food storage capacity.  Cassava and rice are the primary staple food crops.  The main cash crops and foreign exchange earners are rubber, cocoa, and timber.  Rubber is the most important cash crop for households and one of the dominant generators of state revenues accounting for nearly 34.6 percent of the total export receipts in 2016.  An estimated 30,000 people are employed by commercial rubber farms and up to 60,000 smallholder households are involved in growing of rubber trees.  Firestone Rubber Plantation, covering almost 200 square miles, is the largest single natural rubber operation in the world and the biggest private sector employer in Liberia.

 

Another significant cash crop is oil palm, which has traditionally been produced for the domestic market.  Recently, there has been considerable interest from both smallholders and large investors in expanding export production.  However, uncertainty with regard to land tenure is a significant challenge for potential oil palm farmers and investors.  Stakeholders in the oil palm sector include smallholder farmer cooperatives, individual farmers, large multinational corporations and concessionaires, as well as individuals playing various intermediation roles and support services.  Another obstacle to investment in the sector is the lack of capital and professional expertise to increase farm productivity.

 

The country has favorable climate and fertile soil for cocoa production and there is increased investment in the rehabilitation of cooperative and smallholder farms in the country.  Although cocoa production is small scale, it is expected to increase as farmers continue to reclaim and rehabilitate their farms.  As with the agriculture sector in general, smallholder cocoa farmers and local cooperatives are challenged by inadequate farm-to-market roads, lack of familiarity with measurement and quality standards, lack of storage facilities, and limited access to updated price and market information.

 

Beside the cash crops, there are market opportunities and potential for agribusiness investment, which focuses on developing the value chain of the available food crops such as rice, cassava, vegetables, fruits, poultry and fish.  Liberia has suitable climate for horticulture such as production of peppers, okra, onions, tomatoes, bitter balls, etc., which are in high demand throughout the country all year round. Lowland cultivation and low-cost irrigation would give smallholders an opportunity to increase productivity and expand market share of these valuable crops.  Liberia has an Atlantic coastline spanning about 580 kilometers endowed with abundant marine fish stocks.  The coastline and abundant freshwater resources provide breeding grounds varieties of marine species including crab, lobster, shrimp, tilapia, tuna, shark, croaker and barracuda.

 

Leading Sub-Sectors

 

There is strong potential for storage and preservation of vegetables and fruits, such as peppers, okra, grains, tomatoes, banana, mangoes, oranges, and pineapples, which are in demand all year round.  Fish is an important protein source throughout Liberia, and in high demand in the market; therefore, fish farming offers good prospects for investment.

 

Opportunities

 

Potential opportunities include adding value to agricultural produces (rubber, cocoa, rice, cassava, and vegetables.) through processing, manufacturing, and marketing for both domestic and international markets.  Other opportunities include provision of farming implements, fertilizers, storage or warehousing facilities, pest control, standard measurement and drying methods.  There is niche market opportunity for production and marketing of unpolished or “country” rice; opportunities also exist for vegetable drying and storage that would allow for sales in all seasons.

 

Web Resources

 

Ministry of Agriculture
Bureau of National Fisheries (BNF)
National Investment Commission (NIC)
ACDI/VOCA
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

 

Sectorial Origin of Gross Domestic Product (at 1992 Constant Prices, in millions of USD)

Sector

2014

2015

2016+

2017*

Agriculture and Fisheries

216.7

214.4

232.2

241.7

Forestry

92.9

94.7

87.6

90.2

Mining & Panning

131.1

102.2

78.9

83.2

Manufacturing

64.5

68.4

60.5

60.5

Services

399.2

419.2

432.8

445.3

Real Gross Domestic Product

904.4

898.9

892.0

920.9

 

Key Agricultural and Forestry Production

Commodity

2014

2015

2016+

2017

Rubber (Metric Ton)

29,892

45,657

49,965

NA

Cocoa Beans (Metric Ton)

6,602

14,968

9,603

NA

Coffee (Metric Ton)

-

58

162

NA

Round Logs (Cubic Meter)

174,436

111,785

192,814

NA

Sawn Timber (Pieces)

501,602

907,505

749,381

NA

Crude Palm Oil (Metric Ton)

NA

NA

3,021

NA

 
Source: 2016 Annual Report Central Bank of Liberia
+Revised/Actual
*Projections

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Liberia Agribusiness Trade Development and Promotion