A social baseline survey will have to be conducted in the project implementation and detailed consultations have to be held with those directly targeted. The CACs and DACs and other project personnel and relevant extension officers must be trained in social development communications to be able to effectively relate to target communities and farmers. During the planning and implementation phases, considerable time needs to be allowed to explain verbally the concept and objectives of the project to the people, especially when the majority of them are rural and may be illiterate. Their traditional knowledge systems and practices must be taken into account in the design and implementation of the project. Dialogue, meetings and group discussions should be held with local community chiefs and leaders, the youth, women’s groups and other influential people. During the implementation phase, the project officers should discuss work programs and targets for the month or year with the people. To address any possible adverse and/or negative social impacts the project need to establish clear mechanisms to manage the following:
Land Tenure and Ownership Issues
Despite improvement in unrestricted usufruct rights and access to farming lands in Liberia, the rehabilitation and development of tree crops as indicated earlier comes with long term ownership and rights issues. This became evident in discussions with community members regarding especially the youth and women who may wish to participate in tree crops. Land tenure security would need to be addressed. The PIU together with sector ministries, collaborating partners and implementing agencies should consider the following:
Initial discussions with the Commission of Lands must focus on finalization of land sector policy to address current constraints relating to dualistic customary and state land ownership.
Mapping of household access and rights over land: Initial mapping of possible target groups need to include mapping of household access to and rights over land. Particular land access and ownership constraints of women, youth and other vulnerable groups like migrants need to be assessed, analyzed and addressed.
Land Titles and deeds must be developed to cover farms invested in the project through the support and partnership with Liberia Lands Commission.
Integration of Conflict Management Strategies: Possible conflicts relating to land access and rights of ownership needs to be carefully managed. This may relate particularly to the expansion of tree crops and those which will be initially invested into the project. Establishment of clear land ownership rights and guidelines to land access must be pursued.
Address community norms and customs relating to gender, land and ownership rights: Improved ability of women and also the youth to have secure access to land will support their interest and confidence to participate, invest and diversity their agriculture into particularly tree crops development.
Access to Land
Whereas it has been fully established that land is not an issue and traditional ownership of land is not contested in communities, mechanisms to address any possible conflicts must be clearly established. Land related disputes were assessed to be currently minimal and family disputes about ownership were not judged to be that rampant and so likely to have less impact on the project. However the ejection of squatters on some tree crop plantations especially within concessions can have some negative impact on related project activities. For some concessions who will be participating in the project resettlement arrangements with squatters would have to be discussed and outlined. Also modalities for support in legally registering lands must be discussed and carefully communicated to farmers. Research is needed to examine the impact of customary land tenure on the adoption of tree crops, and land-use intensification. Tree crops are a potential source of alternative incomes for communities but must not disenfranchise those with access to limited lands
Productive Labor Resources
The scarcity of labor in a target community may hinder the attainment of project goals. Community members indicated growing internal migration among the youth in Liberia. Mostly these rural-urban migration affects significantly the youth who would wish to have more regular source of income than can be offered from agriculture and least of all tree crops with their perceived “lengthy maturity levels”.
Availability of household labor will determine the extent to which households may be able to expand beyond subsistence levels and venture into tree crops. The initial labor resource requirements of tree crops could be demanding on household labor. To assume that family labor may be adequate for most of the rehabilitation activities may be unrealistic since for some vulnerable families (aged, female headed households, physically challenged) the labor demands may be much higher than most average families. For young families who have inherited tree crop farms requiring rehabilitation the role of children in supporting their families may have to be assessed to prevent any unreasonable demands and compromises.
It will be important to:
analyze current family labor availability and the roles and responsibilities of individual members of the family in tree crop farming;
an assessment of the availability, cost and demand for labor and the prevailing cost of hiring labor;
Identify and support additional labor sources like the traditional “kuu” (self help) system and all other avenues that exist within rural farming communities to ensure that labor needs are met;
Investigate options for consistent labor hiring and available resources to farmers and farmer associations;
Establish and reinforce guidelines against the involvement of children as direct labor on household plantations;
Map household plots against household labor to advice on the realistic levels of acreages to be invested in the project must be undertaken as part of a detailed social impact assessment (SIA). According to the Liberia CFSNS (2008) the number of working age adults (15-59) in rural households is 2.5 (Male:2.6 / Female 2.0)
Unexpected Community Expectations
Managing community expectations for projects is not always an easy task due to the varying composition of project stakeholders and their divergent interests. Individual members may hold different and sometimes unrealistic expectations of every project. Initial project efforts must invest in ensuring that adequate consensus is built among community members and leaders regarding the objectives and proposed project actions:
Organize general consensus building meetings with community members to sensitize and create awareness and understanding of the goal, objectives of the project and the role of farmers to prevent any unwarranted expectations among the stakeholders.
Organize consensus building meetings with clan elders, and community committees and leaders;
Organize consensus building meetings with county Superintendents, Commissioners and District Development Committee (DDC) members;
Gender sensitization, women and youth empowerment training for community leaders.
Identification and establishment of linkages with community level structures
Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture Measures
There is the potential of negative impact on food crop production with negative impact on general food security. Agricultural sector policies that do not clearly have a strategy to maintain and sustain food security can have negative impact on food security of tree crop producing communities. Some constraints faced by households, and the central role of social relations in their livelihood strategies, may limit their response to supply-side approaches. If little was known prior to the civil conflict, then even less is known at present as displaced households return. The project needs to assess how to integrate and address household food security issues in line with tree crop development, while balancing household financial needs through the sale of tree crops and surplus food crops given a farmer’s current endowment of land, labor and capital.
The STCRSP must build strong linkages and synergies with ongoing food security programs being undertaken by the government of Liberia and development partners. The project implementation must for instance foster some collaboration with the ongoing Agricultural Sector Rehabilitation Project (ASRP) which focuses mostly on food security. The ASRP adopts an approach that is the Value Chain Approach which is an integrated approach aimed at strengthening the linkages between the various steps of the crop cycle, from planting to consumption, taking into account agronomic, processing and marketing aspects.13 The STCRSP should map their target communities and farmers and build synergies between their activities and that of projects like the ASRP.
Farmers Organizations and Community Level Associations
Establishment of mechanisms to minimize any possible fractionalization and group conflicts is important. The existence of groups and cooperatives in some communities may not offer automatic adoption and adaptation since they may not have been formed in line with the STCRSP project objectives and may not adequately serve the required purpose. Their existence however offers some opportunity to assess their potential to be adopted with some intense training. Selection of leaders for the farmer organizations groups is another critical issue to be managed through careful facilitation, sensitivity and tact. The issue of possible elite capture of community level groups has to be managed in light of that current leadership systems in rural communities have been greatly weakened by the conflict and its resulting migration of community members. These groups should have leaders who have been selected by group members themselves and not imposed upon by other stakeholders.
The involvement of women and the youth in the associations is another important consideration. According to a recent study by CDA14, the average age of the cooperatives across the nine counties that were part of this assessment is 45 years, of the 10,722 shareholder only 2852 (26%) were under the age of 35. Representation on the boards are expectedly low, of the 574 total board members only 85 (14%) are youths. Whereas the involvement of the Cooperative Development Agency (CDA) in the project is applauded, their group, financial and management capacities at national, county, district and community levels would have to be assessed and targeted training provided.
The project must ensure proper mobilization, formation and training of farmer based organizations.
Ensure that farmers understand and accept the project objectives and proposed actions;
Clear guidelines are established for the formation of the groups including the selection of leadership to avoid elite capture of the group;
Develop a manual of operation for the farmer groups and associations;
Strengthen capacity of groups in financial management especially management of group funds and loans under the project;
Formerly register the associations with the DDCs at district and county levels;
Build in conflict management and peace-building systems in group formation to prevent factionalism; and
Build in sustainability mechanisms for groups to continue beyond the project duration.
The establishment of a governance system which uses participatory approaches to ensure effective participation of local stakeholders is critical. This will ensure effective mobilization, facilitation, advocacy, communication, market pricing and information sharing amongst especially community level structures: With the coordination of the Ministry of Agricultural, a management system is to be established which sets out clearly the functions and roles of each stakeholders some of which are as detailed in Table 3 below.
Capacity Building in Group and Financial Management
The provision of targeted training on-demand training of farmers’ groups including financial management, conflict management and peace building must include training of trainers. Farmers including women must be trained to complement extension staff in service delivery. It should be stated that there is already some ongoing efforts under the ACDI/VOCA Livelihood Improvement for Farming Enterprises (LIFE) Project being implemented by the IITA/STCP in three counties (Bong, Nimba and Lofa) under Cocoa. Farmer Field Schools have been trained to manage groups and transfer improved cultural practices in the management of Cocoa and Coffee.
Whilst farmers and community leaders are very emphatic in the need to be supported with short term soft loans the management and repayment of loans by farmers remain a grey area and it would be important to ensure some intense training for farmer groups to understand the modalities of the financial and input support to be provided under the project. Sensitize Cooperatives on inventory credit and other credit supports Implementation of the mechanization program in cooperation with farmers’ groups, etc.
Communities, farmers and farmer groups hold the key to ensuring that project objectives and activities are consistently followed and outputs are successfully achieved. The role of extension agents is critical and their mobility vital. There may be the need to ensure that extension agents are well distributed, sufficiently equipped and mobile to work with Project Management/Implementation Unit (PMU/PIUs). The role of the County Agricultural Coordinators (CACs) and District Agricultural Coordinators (DACs) may have to be assessed and their capacity gaps addressed.
Table 17:Functions of Key Groups and Stakeholders:
Ministry of Agriculture:
They will establish the PIU under which project activities are to will be carried out by the MOA extension agents who are posted at county level under the supervision of the CAC. The project will provide the CAC with a the needed resources to backstop farmers for instance motorbikes to enable them visit farmers’ groups under their areas of responsibility on a regular basis. The project should support the formation of women’s groups / cooperatives to improve their access to extension services.
The main project targets who will provide farms and lands for rehabilitation and cultivation of the tree crops. They will provide household labor required to ensure proper management of the crops:
Responsible for the mobilization of farmers into formidable groups, negotiate for market crop prices, facilitate training of farmers and the distribution of inputs to farmers.
Their specific contribution may include provision of land for community nurseries, sensitization and mobilization of farmers groups, coordination and monitoring of farmers activities;
Will play the role of assisting farmers with farm development, supply of seedling, technical support and purchase of tree crop products. Initial participants: SRC, COCOPA, CRC, MARCO, EPO, EAI
Traditional and Political Leadership:
These have the crucial function of settling disputes among farmers, ensure peace within communities and represent government at the various levels of the grassroots. They also have the ability to assist with land access. They include District commissioners, paramount chiefs, chiefs, and elders
Private sector will support distribution, supply and advisory support in the use of farm inputs and equipments.
Brokers and Marketing Companies:
Can assist development and farm management through marketing agreements with the PIU and farmers associations.
Gender Equality and Youth Issues
In the distribution of project activities and resources, gender and vulnerability assessments and analysis may have to be conducted in relation to the project. Targeted women and the youth empowerment programs may need to be developed. This may enable them become active participants in the project and support the improvement on their roles and responsibilities in the tree crop sector. Critical issues relating mostly to access and ownership to land, labor and breaking out of the stereotypical and traditional perception of relating to tree crop farming must be addressed. In supporting women farmers to improve their productivity and to be able to increase their production levels the project must consider the proposals identified under the Policy Memorandum developed by the World Bank’s Gender and Development Group (PRMGE) in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Development of Liberia (MoGD).15 This will require prioritization of interventions to ensure:
Sustainable provision of productivity-enhancing inputs and means of production, particularly high yielding seeds, agrochemicals and tools;
Improve access to cash crops;
Effective delivery of extension messages for knowledge and technology dissemination; and
Improved access to land and tenure security
Gender mainstreaming efforts and plans among both the STCRSP and main project stakeholders is incorporated in the social management plan.
Collaboration between the sector ministries of Planning and Economic Affairs, Gender and Development, and Agriculture will be crucial to improve efforts to ensure the collection of gender-disaggregated agriculture sector data and to maximize the decision making on promotion of gender equity.
Stakeholder Involvement and Linkage Building
The STCRSP must sustain and support cohesiveness within the household and kinship systems since this will support the management of any potential conflict relating to land at any level (household, kingship, community and local systems). In the development and expansion of tree crop farms any potential conflict may affect any sector development agenda. The fragility of post-war conflict management promotion activities must be clearly considered and supported. The act of involving project communities, smallholders (however defined) need to be included in the plan and decision making processes clarified in order for the project to desirable outcome which benefits both participating individuals, farmers, communities, counties and Liberian sustainability.
Ensure inter sectoral / ministerial collaboration to deal with critical sector issues and avoid duplication of efforts in the coordination in the implementation of the project is critical. The MOA under the supervision of the CACs and DACs need to work closely with the District Development Committees (DDCs) to ensure proper coordination at the county and district levels.
There are a large and diverse number of stakeholders with an interest in the revitalization of the smallholder tree crops sector and who can influence to varying degrees the success of its implementation and operation. These include:
Local people (as individuals and communities): Interaction and dialogue is essential for maintaining the good will of local people and a secure and productive environment for the proposed project. Initiatives such as capacity building and employment generation are examples of such interaction;
Government of Liberia ministries and line agencies: Those which, directly or indirectly, have responsibility for initiating, regulating or monitoring one or more other of the components of the proposed project;
Non-government organizations: Many of these work in the local communities and may be able to assist in the delivery of mitigation and complementary measures;
Private sector: These include businesses as well as individuals who may be potential vendors of support services;
The international community: A number of these focus on the rich biodiversity of Liberia and have concerns regarding the safeguarding of the country’s natural heritage;
Involvement of the stakeholders at key stages in the development and operation will be a key factor in avoiding challenges and conflicts. There is a requirement to be accountable which necessitates appropriate dissemination of information and transparent policies. The table below summarizes some of the key project stakeholders, their tasks and responsibilities.
Table 18:Institutional Tasks and Responsibilities in Management of Project Impacts
Ministry of Agriculture
Disbursement of funds
Monitoring and Evaluation
Overall Project Coordination and implementation including the setting up of a PIU