The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has turned over what was once known as the Project Management Unit (PMU) building to the University of Liberia (UL) after several years of use by the Government of Liberia.
The PMU building which started as the Agriculture Extension Training Center (AECT), was used to do mid-level training in different areas of agriculture, as well as short-term training, according to Professor Leroy Cegbe, Dean of the William R. Tolbert Jr. College of Agriculture and Forestry (CAF).
He said the College of Agriculture developed short-term programs that were demanded by the Ministry of Agriculture and other NGOs to train farmers in the area of agriculture extension.
“So that’s how it was used. But the war came and devastated the entire facility and left it in ruins,” Dean Cegbe said. “The ministry again came back and rehabilitated the structure and sent in its Project Management Unit (PMU).
“So today we are blessed that it’s going to be turned over to us for us to resume the work that we did in time past,” he stressed.
He said the university will immediately begin the processes that will lead to the training of county agriculture coordinators and district agriculture officers and technicians.
“We have the requisite man power; we have the human resource to commence the work. What we lack is the inputs (tools, equipment, etc) that help us to do the work,” he added.
The Dean said it was as a result of the trainings offered by the College of Agriculture that made Liberia semi self-sufficient in food production prior to the civil war. He said he believes with the necessary support for these trainings, Liberia can once again become self sufficient in food production.
Presenting the keys to the building to UL President Dr. Julius S. Nelson Jr, was Deputy Agriculture Minister for Planning and Development, Professor Robert K. Fagans, Sr, who expressed gratitude to the University of Liberia for allowing the Agriculture Ministry to use its facilities for the time it stayed. Deputy Minister Fegans assured that every equipment needed to keep the building up was intact.
Minister Fagans described the use of the building as “a blessing to the ministry,”adding that the use of the facility saved his institution a lot of cost.
He said although they have turned the building over to the university, the ministry will still work with the institution in agriculture-related areas in order to empower young people.
In response, UL President Dr. Nelson expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Agriculture for what he called “long years of partnership” and added that the university looks forward to an extension of her working relationship with the ministry in the agriculture sector of the country.
“But for you giving us back this building after using it for those many years and leaving it intact for us, we say ‘thank you,’” Dr. Nelson stated. “We appreciate that. Tell your colleagues from the PMU and the whole ministry that the university team appreciates your work here and we look forward to additional opportunities and possibilities that we can continue.”
President Nelson maintained that with the facility and land space available to the university, his administration stands ready to take the institution to the next level.
“This place has 5, 800 acres of land; we believe that with our new direction, we will be working closely with all the government institutions in agriculture and other areas so that we can close the gap between government agency and the university,” he added. “We will together in a very wonderful way to do the work.”
Also speaking, Vice President for UL Relations and Acting Vice President for Administration, Atty. Norris Tweah thanked the ministry and said he hopes that the partnership continues, while stating that the ministry’s legacy is etched in the university’s legacy.
VP Tweah committed to placing a priority on maintaining the building, as it is the wish of the 15th president of the University of Liberia to have all of the university’s facilities modernized.