Afriland First Bank (AFB) has pledged its commitment to supporting the Liberian economy through empowerment of actors in the agriculture sector. AFB Managing Director HamadouBayo said the bank has established branches in Monrovia and River Gee, Grand Kru, Barpolu, River Cess Counties and two banks each in Lofa and Nimba Counties which are intended to strengthen the agriculture sector financially.
Director Bayo made the pledge Tuesday when the bank signed a Partnership Agreement with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to support the financial base of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Liberia at a local hotel in Monrovia. He noted that despite the Ebola crisis that affected the Liberian economy, the government has been able to get the economy running again and that the bank will support the growth and development of the national economy.
According to Bayo, banking activities in the leeward counties will enhance the economic viability of Liberians and boost the economy as he explained that Afriland is an African bank that focuses on empowering small-scale farmers.
Agriculture in Liberia is a major sector of the country’s economy worth 38.8% of GDP, employing 67% of the population and providing a valuable export for one of the world’s least developed countries (as defined by the UN). Liberia has a climate favorable to farming, vast forests, and an abundance of water, yet low yields mean that over half of foodstuffs are imported, with net agricultural trade at -$73.12 million in 2010.
The major crops are natural rubber, rice, cassava, bananas and palm oil. Timber is also a major export at $100 million annually, although much of this is the product of unsustainable habitat destruction, with Asian corporations criticized for their role. Although agricultural activity occurs in most rural locations, it is particularly concentrated in coastal plains (subsistence crops) and tropical forest (cash crops). The sector is very important for women as they are widely employed in it in comparison to the economy as a whole.