Agricultural boom and food self sufficiency in Sierra Leone
Food security via a turnaround in agricultural production remains topmost in the Ernest Koroma led government. Indeed, there seems to be light at the end of the proverbial tunnel as the signals are beginning to show that Sierra Leone may once more get back to the days when it did not only produce enough for local consumption, but also exports a substantial amount, thus bringing in much Â needed foreign exchange. I often stress that food self sufficiency is a primary benchmark to be met for National stability and economic growth. I say Economic growth because where a considerable percentage of the population is hungry, that alone often suffices to trigger violence and increase the crime rate in the country. Â Such a situation will be an affirmation to the clichÃ© which states â€œa hungry man is an angry manâ€. Â (Photo: Brima Karl Samura)
Indeed, the Ernest led government has made significant inroads into making agricultural viability a tangible reality. With the brilliant Minister of Agriculture influencing farmers to form groups which can be easily reached and coordinated in a proactive manner, harvest for this year will certainly be a thing to sing home about. Government has in this time round refused to be selective in dealing with the various regions in the country. Emphasis and priority is placed on the potentials of the crop producing areas thus adequately harnessing the available land to maximize crop yields. From Kailahun to Pujehun, from Tonkolili to Bombali, the periodic assessment tours by the able Minister of Agriculture has served as an added impetus to farmers in encouraging them to double their effort so that the presidentâ€™s dream of achieving food self sustainability is achieved. The effort of Minister Sam Sesay should indeed be lauded as he has been one of the result producing Ministers in the current APC government. Recently, I was listening to the CTN radio and I heard him highlight certain ventures undertaken and to be undertaken while distributing agricultural implements to some farmers in the eastern region of Sierra Leone. He said, â€œthis is a partnership between you farmers and the government, and we should all work collectively to succeed in feeding the nation, I will do all I can as a Minister, to ensure that the things that are needed to assist farmers do their work successfully are providedâ€. He went on to disclose to his audience that currently, there are 265 tractors in the country and that very soon; 900 metric tons of fertilizer will arrive in the country. He also disclosed that his Ministry is on the move to get two landing crafts that will enhance accessibility to other farming riverine communities. He spoke about also securing two speed boats for the same purpose and that the ministry is also working towards building and installing thirty rice milling plants around the country.
He also spoke of an $8million funding from the World Bank to rehabilitate feeder roads around the country all in a bid to stimulate agricultural boom in the country.
In my opinion, I was impressed and I remain convinced that if such efforts are complimented with commitment and resilience by farmers in the country, then hunger in Sierra Leone will soon Â become a thing of the past.
During the SLPP era, former president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah indeed made an attempt to make agriculture a reality but fell short of prioritizing it to a level where the initiative becomes an apparent success thus resulting to negative assertions by citizen and became an issue of mockery for that government. I will implore the current Minister to redouble his effort to see that he not only meets his targets, but exceeds them to a margin that will continue to earn him an enviable position in the current and governments to come. Â Indeed, when Sierra Leone moves to a level where people are known for what they contribute to nation building, then there is all the likelihood that Sierra Leone will be charting a new way forward.
Recently I read in a local tabloid on performance rankings of Ministries in the past year. I was shocked that the Ministry of Agriculture was given a 48% ranking. I am still doubtful of the methods used by that writer to rank the ministries. While I acknowledge for instance, the advances made by the Ministry of Energy, I think the Ministry of Agriculture deserved a better performance ranking than what was actually arrogated to it. The department of Livestock had in the past become dysfunctional, but today, it is one of the most dynamic and vibrant department in the ministry.
I will at this point want to further encourage the Minister of Agriculture to ensure that premium is given to cash crops such as cacao, ginger, piassava, Kashu nuts etc which will bring in much needed foreign income to boost development. Mr. Minister, I doff my hat to you, continue the good work.Â Â Â
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