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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

Support for agriculture in Ebola-impacted region continues

FAO Director-General meets Liberia’s Agriculture Minister

20 February 2015, Rome - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today met Liberia’s Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth, to review the efforts carried out by Liberia, Sierra Leona and Guinea, the three worst-affected countries by the Ebola Virus Disease, to contain the virus and continue on the path towards improved food security and better livelihoods for their farmers.

Da Silva congratulated the Liberians on the reduction of Ebola cases and encouraged increased national and regional collaborative efforts by the three neighboring countries.

He commended the Ministry strong focus on food security and nutrition during the crisis and assured the minister of FAO’s ongoing support. Da Silva also congratulated Liberia’s government for re-opening the country’s schools, calling that “a good sign of the solid recovery path.”

The Minister thanked the Director-General, praising the speed with which FAO implemented a Technical Cooperation Programme after the Ebola virus outbreak started in Liberia.  “FAO was the first of all the international technical and resource partners to make a direct contribution toward a project in helping us fight Ebola,” the Minister said.

She commended the contribution of the organization to agriculture development and food security and asked for FAO’s continued support in research. Liberia’s National Research Institute is now operational, she noted.

Minister Chenoweth explained that agriculture was one of the hardest hit sectors and the principal victims were small farmers.

“They had no idea what had hit them,” the Minister said explaining that the disease had particularly affected the country’s “bread basket” area during a critical season.“The dust is settling down now, and we are back in the field. We were able to mobilize quickly,” she added.

Food security in Liberia has declined in the wake of the crisis, which also caused a sharp slowdown in national economic growth, Chenoweth noted. “Our nutrition was fragile anyway, but you can physically see there are malnourished women and children,” she said.