The horticulture sector in Liberia is characterized by the nature of production which is smallholder based. The climate of the FED project area is primarily a tropical monsoon climate (Am in the Köppen classification) with a relatively short dry season soon after the “winter” solstice i.e. the four months after the third week in December which poses several challenges. These include crop protection, post harvest physiology, logistics, and dry season inputs including the need for irrigation. These problems are coupled with an almost total lack of published information on every aspect of horticultural production in Liberia.
Liberian horticulture is smallholder based with minimal inputs and localized marketing channels. While there is an immense amount of local knowledge derived from generations of trial and error in practical horticultural production. The sector has lagged behind those in other countries in the region.
The situation is promising in that there is an immense amount of slack to be taken in with a high potential for significant impact. The gaps study identifies a range of targeted interventions to;
- Carefully identify the production and marketing bottlenecks along the value chain using a variety of scientific, and other analytical approaches.
- Target interventions where these are identified as limiting, and where intervention costs are economically justified.
- Ensure that intervention costs can be met by the various actors in the value chain.
The entire horticultural value chain in Liberia is characterized by what can best be described as a continuous bottleneck so it is very important for the USAID Food and Enterprise Development Project (FED) to ensure that the constraints are met holistically rather than piecemeal, and in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and other donor projects.