Monrovia– The National Standards Laboratory of the Ministry of Trade and Industry on Friday held a kick-off meeting and a one-day workshop on the activities of the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) under the Transformation Project of the cassava (CASTRAP) in Monrovia.
CASTRAP aims to strengthen the competitiveness and regional integration of the cassava sector in Liberia through a value chain approach focused on sustained production, value addition, entrepreneurship and sustainable markets.
It is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the CERATH Development Organization with the Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment, Conservation Alliance Liberia and the Center for Enterprise Development.
The EU-funded project is the Liberian (national) component of the West Africa Competitiveness Program (WACOMP) launched on October 28, 2021.
The project is expected to enhance the effectiveness of actors engaged in the cassava value chain to improve access to inputs and markets, improve production, processing and marketing of the cassava value chain which will be financially sustainable, commercially viable, etc.
CASTRAP is currently being implemented in southeastern Liberia in the five counties of Grand Kru, Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Sinoe and River Gee.
Thomas Gobah, Deputy Minister of Commerce for Industry, commended the EU and other development partners for their continued support to Liberia.
Mr. Gobah described the meeting as a clear demonstration and determination of the government through the Ministry of Commerce with its development partners to improve the living conditions of ordinary Liberians; especially farmers through sustainable and inclusive development programs such as the CASTRAP project.
He said the INQ kick-off meeting is very dynamic to ensure that key stakeholders remain very meaningfully engaged in the implementation of all these activities.
He made the remarks on January 14, 2022, when he formally declared the meeting open on behalf of his patron, Minister Marine Diggs.
“Therefore, I also want to applaud and encourage everyone to lend their support and commitment to participate in making this national endeavor a success,” Gobah said.
According to him, the cultural and displayable attitude of the said project is that it will support and strengthen viable institutions whose services have a significant impact on the entire project.
He said, “INQ’s selection of services has confirmed that every sector of this country’s development spectrum must be prioritized and properly integrated if development is to be holistic and sustainable.”
The Trade Deputy for Industry told participants that over the years, NQI has been one of the sectors left behind with little awareness of its importance to national development, but standards issues , techniques, regulations, positive evaluation, accreditation and meteorology remain. key elements in the development of industry and commerce.
He said that the CASTRAP project will help and strengthen the capacity of the National Standards Laboratory and fill the gaps of INQ in terms of policy, legal institution and capacity framework.
Deputy Minister Gobah also noted that with this project, the infrastructure and services of the National Standards Laboratory will be standardized and internationally accredited to deepen and certify cassava products like gari (farina), fufu and cassava flowers to market in local and international markets.
The project, he said, intends to provide support for the revision of the National Quality Policy, which is the key policy document for the INQ, as well as to sensitize legislators to adopt the National Standard Laws of 2017, which is necessary for the establishment of the Liberia Standard Authority (LSA).
These, he said, are all commendable and interventions are needed to ensure this is well institutionalized in line with international requirements.
In a remark, the representative of the European Union Delegation, Mrs. Geertrui Lovwagie, told participants that the project is a four-year initiative supported by the EU Regional Competitiveness Program for East Africa. ‘Where is.
The EU representative also estimated the cost of the CASTRAP project at $6 million.
She said the project also aims to improve the financial sustainability and commercial viability of the value chain as well as strengthen policies and other incentives that will boost commercialization in the cassava sector in Liberia.
Mrs. Lovwagie further said that the project will ensure that food security is critically considered as food security is paramount to them under the project.
“Food security is important to us from two perspectives, first, we would like to see safe food in the domestic market in Liberia. We will also be happy to see Liberia export food to European Union markets and we will rarely be happy for Liberia to produce food and produce to EU markets when they are not safe” , she said.
Also taking the floor, Mr. George D. Wolo, Deputy Minister of Commerce, in his welcoming and introductory remarks, also said that the INQ kick-off meeting is an important part of the CASTRAP project, which mainly ensures that INQ services, for example, standards, technical regulations, confirmatory assessment and meteorology are well positioned to improve the national cassava value chain.