Liberia is currently struggling to meet cassava shipping requirements. This poses as a huge risk as the cassava sector stands to lose US $15m from a contract with a China-based company.
The company, Welcome Development Industry Limited, signed a contract with National Cassava Producers Union of Liberia (NCPUL) that could see 500 metric tons of cassava-chips exported to China on a monthly basis.
Emmanuel Tambah, president of NCPUL, has expressed uncertainty about the union’s ability to meet up with the agreement, citing financial constraints. Speaking to local media, Tambah said the union needs the additional US $250,000 to purchase better machines that will accelerate the production process of the cassava-chips. Currently, members of the union are processing their cassava using manual equipment.
The contract also requires that the Liberian government sign a ‘Protocol of Phytosanitary Requirements’ for the export of cassava to China, a requirement which Tambah said could worsen the process if the Government of Liberia lingers.
A Protocol of Phytosanitary Requirements is a derivative of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, which is an international treaty of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is aimed at the protection of human, animal or plant life or health from certain risks. Under the protocol, WTO sets constraints on member-states’ policies relating to food safety (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection, packaging, and labeling) as well as animal and plant health (phytosanitation) with respect to imported pests and diseases.
In the case of the NCPUL, the Government of Liberia, as a WTO member state, through the Ministry of Agriculture, would need to sign a Protocol of Phytosanitary Requirements with the relevant authority in the People’s Republic of China for the two private-sector counterparts to carry on their business cooperation.