3. Basic Considerations in Developing a Strategy for Rural

Before an attempt is made to outline a strategy for the development of the rural sector, it is useful to summarize the more important considerations which determine the type of strategy suitable for Liberia:

  • Climate and soil conditions make the country especially suitable for tree crops which, in order to be profitable, require high investments and top level management.
  • Because of the existing conditions of climate and soil and because of the hilly topography, the cultivation of non-tree crops requires a high level of intensity and a high level of management, including such measures as contour farming, terracing, alternation of tree crops and arable crops, etc.
  • The development of commercial agriculture is essential to the development of agriculture related industries which will probably be required of the employment creation potential in the modern sector is to be increased significantly.
  • There are limitations as to the extent to which traditional agriculture can be developed without changing the shifting cultivation into a modern permanent agriculture. The technical know-how concerning this process is scarce. Social and cultural constraints as well as limited resources have a disadvantageous influence on this process.
  • With the given development of the overall economy and the available stock and supply of manpower, the traditional farming sector is bound to shrink.
  • In the long run, increases in the income levels outside traditional agriculculture will cause more and more migration away from traditional agriculture.
  • While all the points mentioned so far speak for a concentration of efforts on modern agriculture, equity and justice considerations and the Liberian policy of total involvement require a strategy promoting the traditional sector now, and not only in the long tun development. Such measures should include a welfare component in a short run perspective, which, however, might turn into a productive investment in the long run.
  • The above considerations imply a two way strategy:
    • one concentrating immediately on the productive sector in agriculture with the aim to increase production where the prospects are good, and thus increase income, private as well as public. This, at the same time, will provide funds for the second way:
    • the development of the traditional agricultural sector.
  • The traditional sector in agriculture should be developed in such a way that the institutional structure to be established serves its purpose when the traditional farming sector will have •been developed into a modern smallholder agriculture. The following chapter gives an outline of such a strategy.