VP joins President at official launch of the small holder commercialization programme
Freetown, March (SLENA): His Excellency, Dr. Ernest B. Koroma has officially launched the Small Holder Commercialization Programme/Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (SCP- GAFSP) at the Bank Complex, Kingtom in Freetown.
In his key note address His Excellency the president Dr. E.B Koroma said during his first five year term as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, agriculture was a topmost priority in the agenda for change. “We articulated our vision for the sector as the engine for sioco-economic growth and development through the commercialization and the promotion of the private sector, including the farmers and farmer based organizations,” the president said, adding that it was on that basis that his government significantly increased the budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector from the 1.6% that was inherited to the current 10% of our national budget.
He added as a government, they quickly and rigorously embarked on the process of developing a comprehensive road map for the long term development of the agricultural sector within the AU’s Comprehensive Africa Development Programme (CAADP) process. This process he said, led to the formulation of the National Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme (NSADP) which serves as the country’s 20 years road map for the agriculture sector, pointing out that his government and development partners decided to focus on the small holder farmers for the first 5 years and hence formulated the small holders commercialization programme popularly known as” farm for business.”
The President further stated that they have been able to organize the small holder farmers into farmer – based organizations, built their capacity through farmer field schools and supported them with agricultural business centres, tractors, rice mills, generators, power tillers, and other equipment and inputs and re-affirmed his government commitment to continue to prioritize agriculture in the agenda for prosperity.
He promised to work to increase the production of our staple food beyond self- sufficiency, with emphasis on sustainable land and water management to improve yields, promote export crops, promote commercial agriculture along the value chain, link farmers to markets as well as provide effective rural and agribusiness financing systems that would increase access of small holder farmers to finance.
The symbolic handing over of cheques worth Le 800,000,000(eight hundred million Leones) to two competing companies, the Arul Trading Company and Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Company each receiving Le 400,000,000 (four hundred million Leones) and the handing over of property worth five billion Leones to the Western Rural District Council by the president climaxed the ceremony.
Farmer’s representative, Mr. Olu John said the PRSP 2 was launched in 2008 to address food security, adding that the construction of ABCs coincided with the distribution of tractors to farmers for which farmers paid 40% less than it actual cost to enable them own tractors in order to enhance food security. “We want to grow what we eat and eat what we grow” he said.
The Minister of agriculture forestry and food security commended female farmers for working so hard in producing food for this country, adding that the $50,000,000 was handed over to companies that are involved in promoting agriculture in the country and the transformation of the 50 ABC’s into legal entities, and that, these should be attributed to the strong leadership provided by H.E and Vice president Sam Sumana and other donors.
Earlier, the Chairman of the ceremony, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, Special Adviser to the President, described agriculture as the main stake of the country’s economy, pointing out that it plays an important role in the agenda for change and prosperity.
The occasion, he said, seeks to address the importance of (GAFSP) and to work on those pledges made at the “G- 20” conference held in Pittsburgh in 2009, adding that it was also aimed at improving the small holder commercialization programme.
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