These, he said, are in support of the government’s ‘Pro-Poor Agenda’ for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
Ceremonies marking the distribution of the motorized outboard engines, which were donated by the Government of Japan to the Government and People of Liberia through the National Fisheries and National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), were held at the Unification Pavilion in the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
“My vision is to lead and my mission is to develop and complete my vision and so I am honored by your confidence you reposed in me to lead. I am proud of you; Liberians,” said President Weah amid cheers.
“And because I am a talk and do President, I am here to do this donation to the fishermen. This will have direct and indirect impact on the fishing sector. It will impact over 100,000 actors in the sector. Thanks to NAFAA for being so proactive on its duties,” the Liberian chief executive lauded.
“Our many initiatives are geared to lift our people from poverty to prosperity by improving their lives. These outcomes are the true gifts of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development. I will always solicit help to build our country. Liberia will get better in the next three years and beyond. But without peace our world will be difficult. I pray that our dark days not be repeated,” he warned.
According to him, the donation of the motorized engines by the Japanese government to Liberia was an outcome of his visit to Japan in August 2019 for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development – TICAD7 Summit.
The Liberian leader asserted that the initiative is aimed at addressing the challenges of fishermen by improving their standards of living, and that is in direct support of the government’s development plan – the PAPD.
On the distribution of the motorized engines, he urged members of the fishing community institute strong maintenance mechanisms so as to keep up the life span of the engines.
In remarks, the Director General of NaFAA, Madam Emma Metieh Glassco, indicated that the move is in consonance of Pillar 2 of the PAPD – “Economy and Jobs,” that which aims to create a middle class economy by increasing daily earnings of at least 300,000 thousand local fishers.
The NaFAA boss pointed out that addressing the plight of the masses of the fisheries workforce, who constitute vast majority of Liberia’s population, has been a long and challenging journey.
“For example, in densely populated rural coastal areas such as Grand Bassa, Maryland County, Cape Mount, etc. which lack job opportunities, fishing provides alternative livelihood opportunities for their respective population and it was on this basis that we were able to present a strong case to our development partners for support and also considering that the full potential of the wealth of aquatic fish resources Liberia possesses is yet to harnessed,” said the Director General Glassco.
“Liberia has about 4,800 paddling canoes across its 578 km of coast line, the second longest in West Africa. Like I earlier stated, these canoes are owned by struggling Liberian fishermen who are engaged in subsistence fishing activities due to their inability to go far out at sea couple with the high risk associated with paddling. Their counterparts, the Fantis and other migrant fishermen, who have motorized canoes, use less effort, to go far at sea, and have bigger vessels. Their catch is at higher commercial quantity and value which results to higher income,” she told the gathering.
She furthered that this intervention by the Liberian leader to graduate Liberian fishermen from “paddle to engine” gives hope and empowers them (fishermen) by putting them in a position to compete with their foreign counterparts.
“We can now boldly say, in the words of my President, H.E George Mannah Weah, that the fishermen of Liberia shall never be spectators in their own economy but active players,” Madam Glassco intoned.
She maintained that the overall goal of the distribution of motorized engines is to boost fish production, increase local fishers’ daily earnings and supply the dietary protein needs of the Liberian population through the transitioning process of “Paddle to Canoe.” initiative.
The fisheries head detailed that the distribution basically targeted fishing cooperatives from all nine coastal counties of Liberia.
“The Cooperatives are harmonized framework comprising of all actors in the sector, including fishermen, canoe owners, fish processors, fish sellers, safeguards and other fishing community residents/dwellers, respectively. This concept of giving the outboard machines to fisheries cooperatives, instead of individual fisher folks, will ensure accountability and effective monitoring to measure the impact of this initiative over time, and to identify other areas of arising needs,” the NaFAA head clarified.
“At the national level, this initiative, of transitioning 600 paddling canoes to motorized canoes, will go a long way in narrowing Liberia’s import-export fish deficit gap of 33, 000 metric tons per annum, while increasing our net per capita fish consumption which currently stands at 9.49Kg compared to the global per capita fish consumption of 23.5Kg,” added Madam Glassco.
Dr. Khwima Nthara, World Bank Country Manager to Liberia, reaffirmed the Bank’s support to the development of the fishery sector and all sectors of the country.
The World Bank Country Manager disclosed that with the signing of a US40M agreement aimed at improving the fishing sector underway, the sector will never be the same again.
“On behalf of the Bank let me thank the President for his leadership and vision for amplifying the fishery sector. This will go a long way in improving productivity. I want to urge you to maintain them so that this investment will lift the sector. World Bank remains supportive to the fishery and all other sectors of Liberia,” vowed the World Bank Country chief.
Madam Mariatou Njie, Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), described the fishery sector as an important sector for Liberia in enhancing food security.
She stated that the distribution of the motorized outboard engines will improve the lives of local fishermen.
“This is going to have a transformational impact on their livelihoods and enable them to travel far at sea and stay more protected. The outboard motorized engines will have no direct cost on them, I am told,” she noted.
Like the World Bank, the FAO country head said the organization stands ready and committed to work with NaFAA to the successful realization of the President's vision of economic revitalization.
In separate remarks, Grand Bassa County Electoral District #4 Representative Vincent T. Willie, who is also the acting Chairman of the county’s Legislative Caucus, and Margibi County Senator, Dr. Jim Tornola, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Forestry, pledged their unflinching support to NaFAA to ensuring reformation in the sector.
Chief Zanzar Karwor, Chairman of the National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL), described the distribution of the engines as timely owing to the many difficulties in hunting on heel of stringent regulations by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
The Chiefs, Elder Council and Zoes Chairman warned Liberians against negative criticisms, which according to him, will not and have never solved any problem for the country.
“To my chiefs, elders and zoes, let us always remember to pray for this President to succeed because when he succeeds, our country has succeeded,” ordered Chief Karwor in his local Bassa vernacular, which was interpreted into English.
Like many speakers, the Senior Advisor of the Kru Fishermen, E. Slewion Nimely, thanked the President for the swift intervention and urged the Liberian
“Please don’t give up in implementing the PAPD. I can promise you that these engines will be used wisely for the intended purposes,” he, among other things, added with a petition handed onto the President through NaFAA boss Glassco.