Supporting Responsible Investments in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI)

Policy makers from Sierra Leone and Liberia engaged in learning programme to create an enabling environment for responsible investment in agriculture


Last week, about 30 policy makers from Liberia and Sierra Leone participated in the face-to-face workshops of the blended learning programme “Creating an enabling environment for responsible investment in agriculture and food systems” organized by FAO in collaboration with ZOA Liberia and WHH Sierra Leone. The learning programme is delivered as part of a German-funded project which aims to enhance institutional and policy frameworks for responsible investment in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Lao PDR.

39 participants from Liberia and Sierra Leone, representing more 29 different Ministries and government agencies were nominated for the programme and participated in initial online learning sessions from 7 September to 2 October. During these sessions, participants increased their understanding of the relevance, opportunities and challenges related to responsible investment in agriculture and food systems in their countries; discussed priority areas for policy enhancement; and identified key actors that need to be involved in policy making processes related to responsible agricultural investment.

“Liberia as a country needs more knowledge on the importance of agriculture for development and jobs. I have increased my knowledge and awareness on how essential agriculture is, about the roles that each of the actors plays in the sector, and the centrality of our role in developing policies that impact everyone,” said Shadrick Bornor, from the National Investment Commission in Liberia.

Developing national roadmaps to address priority issues

Of these 39 participants, 28 validated the online sessions and were admitted to face-to-face workshops which took place in Monrovia and Freetown last week. During this workshop, those committed policy makers further elaborated on priority issues and develop a national road map with priority policy issues to be tackled to strengthen the enabling environment for responsible investment in agriculture and food systems.

In Liberia, empowering youth to engage in agricultural investment was identified as the key priority. As one participant argued, Liberia has an impressive amount of technical and vocational training for youth in agriculture, but much needs to be done to improve the sustainability of these programmes. Enhancing access to complementary services, such as commercial credits, is key in this regard. Another important aspect is training educated youth in universities agribusiness skills. Finally, inter-agency coordination is vital to enhance synergies between different programmes.

In Sierra Leone, participants focused on drawing a road map that aims at enhancing investments that contribute to food security and nutrition; empower youth; and protect the environment and enhance biodiversity. This road map contains short-, mid- and long-term solutions.

"This is an extremely appropriate programme for my country as we are currently working hard to attract investments. I have strengthened my knowledge on the relationship of both state and non-state actors in contributing to responsible agribusiness investments and food systems in my country," said Abdulai Yollah Bangura, from the Human Rights Commission in Sierra Leone.

Next steps: strengthening the capacities of civil society and promoting policy dialogue

Over the next months, FAO will work with policy makers to further refine their road maps through a second phase learning programme which will take place in early 2021. In addition, FAO will strengthen the capacities of civil society, NGOs and small and medium producers and enterprises to engage in policy dialogue.

These different interventions are expected to lead to a constructive and fruitful multi-stakeholder policy dialogue in 2021 to jointly identify policy recommendations that will increase much needed investment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Liberia and Sierra Leone by 2030.

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Sierra Leone