Kakata, Margibi County - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac, on Thursday officially inaugurate Liberia’s first industrial rice processing and warehousing facility, Fabrar -Liberia Inc., in Kakata, Margibi County this weekend. Fabrar Liberia Inc. (Fabrar) is a fully incorporated, Liberian owned and run agriculture holding firm created in 2009 to tackle food insecurity in Liberia by improving the livelihoods of farmers and providing them with increased access to domestic and international food markets.
In 2014, with financial and technical support from the U.S. Government through the USAID Food and Enterprise Development (USAID FED) program and private equity financing from West Africa Venture Fund, Fabrar was able to procure an automated rice processing plant and expand its warehouse facilities.
The newly industrialized facility, now with double its previous capacity, can mill 30 metric tons (MT) of rice each day and store 1,000 MT with proper ventilation and protection from pests, mold, fungus and mildew. As the country’s largest rice processor, and only industrial processor, Fabrar Liberia Inc. will provide Liberian farmers with an incentive and motivation to grow quality rice as a business and not just for subsistence.
USAID FED & Rice Production in Liberia
The USAID FED Program aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians by increasing agricultural productivity and profitability of food crops (rice, cassava, vegetables, and goats), stimulating enterprise development and building the agriculture workforce. The program is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.
Through USAID FED, participant farmers receive improved seeds, fertilizers, tools, and technical support on the use of new technologies and agricultural practices. The program also provides farmers with strategic assistance in land preparation, such as facilitating access to power tillers and building permanent irrigation structures on lowland fields.
As a result of these interventions, many farmers supported by USAID FED now produce excess quantities of rice; even at the height of the Ebola crisis, farmers participating in the USAID FED program saw record levels of rice production from their fields, and, today, there is a surplus of local rice in Liberia. With USAID FED’s support, Fabrar Liberia Inc.’s newly expanded and industrialized processing mill will provide farmers with an outlet for much of this surplus rice.
In addition to Fabrar Liberia, USAID FED has set up a series of 10 Rice Business Hubs in Lofa, Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa counties. These small processors are located in high-density business cluster areas, and each center has enough space to thresh, clean and mill rice. These hubs will also provide Fabrar with a secure and reliable place to pick up paddy rice from farmers.
USAID FED uses this all-encompassing approach to serving the rice market – i.e. providing support to both producers and processors – in an effort to create prosperous Liberian food producers and smallholder farmers that, together, can meet the consumer’s demand for quality rice.This model has already yielded significant results:
Since opening Fabrar Liberia Inc. in 2014, the company has sold approximately 350 MT of milled rice.
In May 2014, Fabrar bought 3,260 bags (163 MT) of rice from 550 USAID FED supported farmers in Lofa County, the largest procurement of rice by a local processor in the history of the country.
From September 2014 to March 2015, Fabrar Liberia Inc. procured nearly 400 MT of paddy rice from small holder Liberian farmers and processed it for the local market. Two hundred metric tons of that rice was produced by farmers participating in the USAID FED program and purchased by the World Food Program for distribution to those stricken with the Ebola Virus Disease and their families
Fabrar will market the rice to local consumers in Monrovia and throughout the country. In addition to traditional marketing channels like supermarkets and restaurants, there are opportunities for large scale rice contracts in the private sector and the Government of Liberia. Each year, the Government of Liberia procures over 70,000 bags (approximately 3,500 MT) of rice for government employees, school feeding programs, and various humanitarian assistance projects. Previously, that rice was supplied entirely by foreign imports due to a lack of domestic supply. Now that Fabrar Liberia Inc. is open for business they will be able to meet such a demand for processed local rice.
USAID FED is the largest activity in Africa under President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence and increasing food security by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, the private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.
The United States—Liberia’s largest single donor—supports the nation’s priorities to build sustainable, local capacity, make a difference in people’s lives, and move towards a shared vision of self-sufficiency and prosperity. For more information, please visit: www.usaid.gov.