Liberia: Local fishery communities frustrated over big money post-harvest facilities

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The Food Security through Commercialization of Agriculture (FSCA) Project, West African Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP), and recently ended, Conflict Prevention and Peace Consolidation through Increased Food Security in the Fishery Sector Project, are names of some of the big money projects that were undertaken in Liberia. But the impact of these projects on the local fishery communities is yet to be realized.

By George Harris

Although each project was implemented under different calendar of time, the three projects had one clear objective. The three projects objective was to tackle fish post-harvest losses within fishery communities of Liberia.

The World Bank US$1.7 million fishery preservation facility in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County, is one of the “big money” facilities that was built to improve fishing activities in the coastal capital.

The facility that is known as the Robertsport Fish Landing Cluster, has operational components that include, a landing site, an ice plant, cold store rooms, drier room, a fish market center and other administrative components. But the million dollars facility that was built through the West African Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP), has not been operational for months since it was dedicated in 2017.

John Adam, General Secretary of the Co-Management Association, a community arm that is co-managing the facility disclosed, that the absence of promised ice making machines and cold stores machines are the causes delaying the facility operations. Adam made the disclosure when SIPA News reporter recently visited the facility in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County.

“We [CMA] have contacted WARFP office and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority about the absence of these promised items. They told us to be patient the items would soon be here. We have gone seven months waiting for the items and we are still waiting,” Adam said.

Similarly, the King Gray Fishery Community in Paynesville, Montserrado County, has expressed frustration about the FAO US$ 2 million project that was completed in 2012.

The Food Security through Commercialization of Agriculture Project (2008-2012), built four post-harvest fishery technology platforms in Grand Kru and Montserrado Counties, two of the West African State’s nine coastal counties. Despite the presence of the post-harvest facility in their midst, fishing folks of the King Gray Community, are still struggling to preserve and cold store their excess catch.

“We just have a structure in our midst, I do not see it as a post-harvest facility because no equipment is in there. It is just an emptied building,” said fisherman Romeo Dyuoga “No equipment yet and there is no sign that this place will be functional soon because this [building]was constructed through a project that has ended years ago.”

Also, the Liberia Artisanal Fishery Association has filed a complaint against the National Fish Farmers Union of Liberia (NAFFUL) for building a sub-standard post-harvest facility in the West Point Township. The union, under the United Nation Mission in Liberia Project, “Conflict Prevention and Peace Consolidation through Increased Food Security in the Fishery Sector”, constructed three post-harvest facilities in Grand Bassa and Montserrado Counties.  But LAFA officials reported that the recently built post-harvest fishery facility in the township was built without their consent.

“What is built in the West Point Township is not up to standard. Besides, NAFFUL never showed us respect by informing us when this facility was being built, at least we could have had our view but we were left out. This is not fair, ‘if we the project beneficiaries are not respected then who is the project for?’

“We have taken the complaint to National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority. They promised to look into the case and get back to us,” said officials of LAFA.

The National Fish Farmers Union and the Faimaba Fisheries Development Inc implemented the three months (February-April) Conflict Prevention and Peace Consolidation through Increased Food Security in the Fishery Sector Project that was worth US$700,000.

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