Liberia - Agricultural SectorsLiberia - Agricultural Sectors
OverviewAgriculture is the primary livelihood for more than 60 percent of Liberia’s population and provides sustenance for many households engaging in cassava, rubber, rice, oil palm, cocoa, or sugarcane production. More households engage in cassava production than any other crop. However, overall agricultural productivity is low, resulting in Liberia importing more than 80 percent of its rice, 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 one of the dominant generators of state revenues, accounting for 17.5 percent of the total export receipts in 2017. An estimated 30,000 people are employed by commercial rubber farms and up to 60,000 smallholder households are involved in growing 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.
Liberia has the 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, fruit, poultry and fish. Liberia has a suitable climate for horticulture such as production of peppers, okra, onions, tomatoes, squash, 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.
Total market size as determined from the Central Bank of Liberia’s reports (Figures in Millions USD$)
|Total Local Production||896.40||882.10||904.10||939.40|
|Imports from the United States||136.60||87.90||81.60||unknown|
|Total Market Size||2,164.50||1,804.00||1,533.50||unknown|
Source: Central Bank of Liberia, Annual Report 2017, Page 38
Leading Sub-SectorsThere 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. Leading sub-sectors also include production and processing of oil palm, cocoa, and Liberia’s staple foods, rice and cassava. Fish is an important protein source throughout Liberia, and in high demand in the market, offering good prospects for investment.
OpportunitiesPotential opportunities include adding value to agricultural products (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 a 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. Other opportunities include private financing in the agriculture value chain, including development financing, microfinance, business development, and cross-cutting areas such as agro-inputs, agro-logistics, packaging, storage and aggregators.
Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.
Liberia Agribusiness Trade Development and Promotion