In the News…
Lofa Business Community: Nightmare in Paradise
Daily Observer
Publication Date: November 14, 2009 – 7:14am
Updated: November 14, 2009 – 3:29pm

[photo: Madam Massa Harleyson’s Used Clothes Center in Voinjama]

Road Network: Challenges, Trends, Problems & Prospects
By:
Edwin M. Fayia III in Voinjama, Lofa County

VOINJAMA – The general consensus in the business community in Lofa County can be summed up in a simple phrase, “Nightmare in Paradise,” owing to the deplorable conditions of that county’s highways and farm-to-market roads.

The challenges of doing genuine business in Lofa County are enormous, especially as regards access to good roads to effective delivery of goods and services to end users, the citizens and residents.

Trends in the Liberian business arena have taken a positive turn with the opening of many foreign and Liberian-owned businesses in the form of small-holder enterprises and service-oriented endeavors. For example, the petroleum sector is dominated by Liberians, especially by the nation’s precious jewels, the younger generation of Liberian youth.

There is no shortage of this essential and highly needed commodity, despite the huge road network challenges in conveying it to the provincial capital of Voinjama in Lofa County, owing to the deplorable nature of the major highways and farm-to-market roads.

However, players in the petroleum sector point out that the profit margin on the commodity is small and therefore needs maximum support and economic empowerment in the form of loans and micro-finance assistance, especially to small Liberian businesses in rural Liberia.

The local petroleum dealers also intimated that the problems associated with the business ranged from trust and confidence from large foreign and Liberian business people, especially the extension of credit and delivery assistance to small businesses operating in rural Liberia.

Another crucial problem identified by the business community in Lofa was the level of insecurity posed by a suspected band of criminals that continue to terrorize and intimidate residents and businesses, hindering their operations in the seven administrative districts of the county.

As an offshoot of the road predicament, another menace that has compounded the woes of the county’s businesses is the uncontrollable hike in transport fares imposed by commercial drivers and other vital public and private transport service providers to, from and within the county.

Looking forward, however, the Lofa business community expressed optimism in the goodwill of the Liberian Government and other major stakeholders in the greater business community to foster and support Liberian businesses, through which several good policies had translated into practical and concrete instruments over the years in the country.

Notwithstanding, the Lofa business community also sounded a note of caution to the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) to graduate from the age-old way of doing everything in the nation’s capital, Monrovia, and advised that the LCC decentralize its business activities to the benefit of the rural sector of the nation.

They also advised that business organizations established in Monrovia should work out concrete modalities that will include and serve rural businessmen and women, as they are also part and parcel of the greater Liberian economy and society.

There are enterprising young men and women in rural Liberia who have, over the years, worked hard and done business with success stories in both small and large business undertakings in the country.

As banks and other financial institutions are now extending their services to the rural parts of the nation, Liberian and foreign organizations with the requisite instruments, that facilitate the socio-economic empowerment of rural Liberians, should begin to see reason to extend all of their professional services to war-affected communities in the country.

In Zorzor and Voinjama cities in Lofa County, JET Trading Corporation, specialists in building materials, has taken the bull by the horn, establishing two stores in order to reduce and ease the major transportation problem affecting rural Liberians, who continue to yearn for the reconstruction of their broken homes.

Commenting on the risk factors in rural Liberia, the Lofa business community argued that many places in Liberia have hostile and crime-prone environments that discourage potential investors and successful Liberian business people from venturing into rural Liberia.

Taking into consideration the strategic location of Lofa County, which borders Sierra Leone and Guinea-Conakry, the Lofa business community asserted the fact that prospects for fantastic and profitable trade and commerce could not be over-emphasized.

Local business women are also making a significant impact and contribution to the business climate in Voinjama City and other administrative districts in Lofa County.

“Upgrade our roads,” the business women challenged the Liberian Government and the nation’s road network stakeholders. “We will reach the deprived and market-oriented communities in Lofa County.

“Access to rural and urban markets,” the business women added, “is critical to the growth, development and progress of the Liberian economy and a sustainable livelihood for rural Liberians.”

In their closing comments, the Lofa business community noted that the rapidly expanding establishment of large and small foreign businesses was a genuine manifestation of the great prospects of doing business in north-western Liberia.
0Copyright Liberian Observer – All Rights Reserved. This article cannot be re-published without the expressed, written consent of the Liberian Observer. Please contact us for more information or to request publishing permission.

From Star Radio, today…..

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Six counties to benefit from USAID-funded skills training Print E-mail
Written by Matthias Daffah   
Friday, 30 October 2009
A global non-profit organization, Education Development Center has commenced operation in the country.The group is charged with the implementation of USAID-funded Core Education Skills for Liberian Youth Project.

A release issued said the program will help young people develop skills and attitudes necessary for the attainment of formal academic learning.

The release said the project will also seek to build the capacity of individuals in the informal sector.

According to the release, the two-year program will increase access to education and enhance the quality of teacher among Liberian educators.

The program will target children and young adults between the ages of ten and thirty-five.

Beneficiary counties of the CESLY’s Core Education Project include Montserrado, Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Maryland and Grand Gedeh.

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Health Ministry Reacts To Malaria Story

The National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) has sharply reacted to a back page lead story published in the Thursday, July 30 edition of the Analyst Newspaper under the caption: Malaria Outbreak in Lofa-about 100 patients treated daily.” In a statement issued today in Monrovia, the NMCP described are report as not only baseless, but lacks any iota of truth. The statement quotes the NMCP Manager, Dr. Joel Jones as saying that the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare is in constant contact with the two hospitals in Voinjama and Zorzor, Lofa County and that there is no report of outbreak of malaria in the country as was erroneously reported by the paper.

Dr. Jones said the story was grossly unprofessional in that such a “serious outbreak” as claimed by the paper, did not quote any individual or medical doctor in the health sector either in Lofa or Monrovia to verify the purported report.

The NMCP boss challenged the report and called on the paper to immediately retract the story or risk being complained to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) for the unprofessional and careless conduct in the discharge of its duty.

©2005 – 2009 The Inquirer Online

—In-the-News—

50-million dollar contract signed in Health sector     
Written by Robert J. Clarke, Jr.    
Wednesday, 08 July 2009 
STAR RADIO

USAID and government through the Health Ministry have signed over 50 million US Dollars contracts to cater to the country’s healthcare delivery system.

USAID is the United States Agency for International Development.

The contracts are under USAID’s Rebuilding   Basic Health Services program.

USAID Mission Director Pamela White who signed for her agency said the contract would initially cover a five-year period.

Madam White told Star Radio the five year program would seek to improve operations and ensure delivery of the ministry’s basic package for health.

It would be implemented in some one hundred fourteen clinics in seven counties.

The counties include Bomi, Bong, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa, Montserrado, Nimba, and River Gee.

The USAID Boss said the initiative represents a critical new step in the reconstruction of the health system of Liberia that would benefit over one million people.

Deputy Health Minister Bernice Dahn who signed for government thanked USAID for the initiative.

Invading army-worms enter major border town
Written by Clarence Jackson
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
STAR RADIO

Report reaching Star Radio says invading armyworms have attacked a major town along the Liberia-Guinea border.

The Chief Medical Officer of Bong County told Star Radio, the armyworms numbering several million have invaded Lawein Town forcing residents to flee.

Dr. Garfee Williams said ten of the ninety-six houses in Lawein Town have been abandoned and people were seeking refuge on farms untouched by the pests.

According to Dr. Garfee the caterpillars are climbing the walls of houses and taking over rice farms in the area.

The Bong County Chief Medical Officer said of the affected towns and villages Lawein was the worst hit with creeks and wells badly contaminated.

Dr. Garfee recommends a massive aerial spraying exercise to rid central Liberia of armyworms.

Also, government has appealed for concerted international efforts to combat the swarm of armyworms that have invaded central Liberia.

Agriculture Minister Dr. Chris Toe said the extent of the damage being caused by the pests requires the help of all international partners.

Minister Toe told Star Radio helicopters were urgently needed to carry out aerial spraying of places attacked by the worm-like caterpillars.

Dr. Toe also appealed for motorized sprayers in order to spray treetops that have been permanently seized by the caterpillars.

On Tuesday Government launched a minimum effort using Knapsack sprayers to combat the swarm of armyworms.

The Ministry of Agriculture has deployed more than thirty technicians in the affected areas to spray the surrounding bushes with insecticides.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture has warned residents of Zota and Suakoko Districts not to eat dead chickens during its ten-day operation in the districts.

According to agricultural experts the insecticides currently being applied remains active for seven days before disintegrating.

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Liberia / UNMIL hands over newly-refurbished school in northern Lofa County

MONROVIA, Liberia, January 7, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/  The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has handed over a newly-refurbished nine classroom community school in northern Lofa County’s Kolahun District for use by the community people. The Kolahun District Muslim Association Community School, destroyed during the civil crisis, was rehabilitated through UNMIL Quick Impact Projects programme.

Representatives of Lofa County Legislative Caucus – Senator Fumba Kanneh and member of the House of Representatives Varfolay A.M. Kamara, thanked UNMIL for going beyond its peacekeeping duties by renovating the school which started as a self-help project to teach school children English and Arabic. “By helping to stop the war, disarming the combatants and repairing public facilities including schools, the courts, police stations, and roads, the Mission has gone beyond its mandate to keep the peace in Liberia and we will always remain appreciative of the good work the UN is doing,” Senator Kanneh said.

Representative Kamara and the school’s principal, Mr. Abraham Konneh called on the Government of Liberia and other partners to assist in completing the auditorium of the school to enable school children carry out extra-curricula activities. They also called for the provision of school materials, improvement of teachers’ welfare and entreating parents to take interest in the overall educational activities of their children.

UNMIL Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Recovery Officer, Mr. Richelieu Wollor, challenged the community to take proper care of the newly-renovated school and to ensure that more girls are enrolled to allow them grow up properly to be good citizens and key development partners. He said four new projects intended to enhance the rule of law have been approved for Lofa County, adding, “in 2009, UNMIL Quick Impact Projects will refurbish immigration, corrections and court facilities.

Attending the ceremony were Kolahun District Commissioner, Mr. Morris Tamba, a representative of Kolahun District Rural Women Group, Ms. Janet Kabah, the Christian and Muslim communities in Kolahun, traditional leaders and other UNMIL personnel.

SOURCE : Mission of UN in Liberia

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Chief Zanzan Karwor NamedBest/Most Productive Rice Farmer for 2008
8 December 2008

Voinjama – President Ellen Johnson has lauded Liberian farmers for complementing government’s efforts to ensure that enough food is available on the Liberian market at an affordable rate. The President made particular mention of the participation of farmers throughout this year’s National Agricultural Fair in Voinjama, Lofa County.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader congratulated the winners of this year’s awards for increased food production and other agricultural sectors. The President urged farmers throughout the country not to relent in their drive to increase food production in the country.

At Saturday’s Fair, farmers were awarded prizes in various categories including best/most productive rice farmer, tuber producer, livestock farmer, farmers group, vegetable farmer, among others. The 2008 Best/Most Productive rice farmer was captured by the Chairman of the Traditional Council of Chiefs, Mr. Zanzan Karwor, while second place went to Nimba county superintendent, Mr. Robert Karmei.

First place prize for Best/Most Productive Tuber producer (cassava, potatoes, plantains, yam, etc) went to River Gee, with Grand Cape Mount and Grand Gedeh Counties coming in second and third places respectively. Margibi came first, followed by Bong and Maryland counties in food crops production.

Best/Most productive Livestock Farmer went to Lofa County in first place while Gbarpolu and Grand Kru came in second and third places. In other agricultural areas, Rivercess County was awarded first prize in Fisheries, followed by Grand Bassa and Sinoe counties.

The Distinguished Female Farmer Award was awarded to Madam Josephine Francis of Ajay farms, for best packaging of local produce. The prizes come with cash and other prizes provided by the Ministry of Agriculture. They range from rice thresher won by Chief Zanzan Karwor; Rice winnowers, fishing nets, assorted farming tools (axes, hoes, shovels, etc).

Meanwhile, Lofa county lawmaker and Co-chair of the county’s Legislative Caucus, Representative Malian Jalieba has lauded the Liberian President for the increase in agriculture production. Representative Jalieba attributed the increase to the support being provided by the Liberian government and the international community, based on representations the President has made to the country’s foreign partners. Representative Jaleeba assured the President that given the level of support, Lofa County will eventually regain its status as the Bread basket of Liberia.

This year’s National Agriculture Fair was witnessed by the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Agriculture Ministers of Mano River Union countries, the ambassadors of the United States and China, as well as the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-general.

The next National Agriculture Fair, Agriculture Minister Dr. Chris Toe announced, will be held next year in River Gee County in South-eastern Liberia.

Copyright © 2008 Liberia Government.

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